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Thread: The Home Maintainance/Improvement Thread

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    All Star x-wingcamewest's Avatar




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    Default The Home Maintainance/Improvement Thread

    Someone was complaining in the shout box about his high energy bills this summer and I thought I'd give you all some simple things that almost anyone can do to help lower their heating and cooling costs perhaps thousands of dollars a year for a few hours of time and 50 to a 100 bucks of materials.

    First I will deal with what is commonly called a Dual Pak roof mounted F.A.U. (forced air unit). This is a combination Furnace and A/C in one package.


    This all should be done early in the day before your roof is hot enough to fry an egg, and your attic could cook a roast.

    I am going to explain how to visually inspect and repair/seal any leaks in your duct system for your Furnace and Cooling system.


    Turn on the blower to your unit at the thermostat in the house. Get on the roof and feel around the base of the unit where it connects to the plenum and curve.

    Some units sit directly on top of the plenum and others have a curved metal box coming out of the attic connecting to the FAU.

    If you feel air leaking around the unit, you can seal it up with Butyl Tape, availible at home improvement stores or a HVAC supply store.

    Next open the cabinet on the opposite side from where the heater and a/c condenser is. (sometimes you will need to open both side of the unit to access both the return and supply air ducting that come into unit. You should be able to see the end of the metal boots inside there. These will be 18 to 24 inches in diameter each.
    make sure that the metal tabs are all flattened down and sealed either with a mastic material or tape. If not, seal them. Close up your cabinet.

    Next, go into your attic. This is the awful part especially if you can't stand up in your attic. With the blower fan running, look around from the opening, and if it is a calm day, see if you can notice any cob webs moving in the attic. If not, your duct system in the attic is probably seal well enough. If you can, I'd go into the attic and visually inspect the two main ducts coming through the roof and feel for air. Do the same if possible to all the smaller branches of duct work at all connections and wyes. If you feel air, use the butyl tape to seal it up.

    Duct material will vary but the most common is a flexible plastic ducting. They have an inner and outer sleeve so make sure both sleeves are connected firmly to the metal connecting duct or regester boots. Others are ridged metal duct, and sometimes in older homes they can be a fiber glass box.
    Seal any leaks you find with your butly tape.

    Note, older homes build before the 60's may have what looks to be a grayish paper covering the metal or fiber glass ducts. don't mess with them as there is a good chance this is an asbestos material. It is ok to be up there and will not harm anyone as long as it is not disturbed.

    Wear good shoes that won't slip and wear a dust mask or respirator while in the attic.

    If you want to get real sexy, you can open your return grill, where the filter goes, and make sure that boot is sealed well too. Also, you can pull off your supply air registers, and caulk around where the metal boot comes though the ceiling or walls.


    If you have a closet, unit sitting on a wooden platform, I can go into that at a later date. Let me know.

    This is a really big Bang For Your Buck simple and inexpensive repair you can do yourself, and like I said, you are paying to heat or cool that air, you want it all to get into the home and not leak out into atmosphere.

    Also, change your damn air filters monthly.

    I hope this helps, maybe this can be an on going thread. Repairing your duct work and insulating your attics is the best cost saving improvement you can do to your homes.

    Be careful on your roof. Use the correct length ladder. If your roof is tile or shake, be extra careful, you could break shingles or tiles and be bitching to me about your roof leaking next winter.
    Last edited by x-wingcamewest; September 10th, 2012 at 02:08 PM.
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    Over the rail! Fropitar's Avatar




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    Love it.

    In addition to what X is saying. If you have a condenser that sits on the ground outside the house, grab the hose and give the fins on it a rinse. The cleaner they are, the more effective they are dissipating heat. Important: Make sure to Keep the pressure on the water low so you dont bend or damage any of the fins. If you stick your hand over the fan on the condenser, it should be blowing warm air. The warmer the air, the better it's running.

    Also, again like X said: CHANGE YOUR DAMN FILTERS! see that clogged up filter from 3 years ago that you just replaced? That's what your evaporator coil is going to look like if you don't and once that happens, you're ****ed.


    Another way to help keep the house cool is an attic fan. They typically come w a thermostat that turns on between 90-100F. Their only function is to move the extremely hot air in the attic with cooler outside air.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fropitar View Post
    Love it.

    In addition to what X is saying. If you have a condenser that sits on the ground outside the house, grab the hose and give the fins on it a rinse. The cleaner they are, the more effective they are dissipating heat. Important: Make sure to Keep the pressure on the water low so you dont bend or damage any of the fins. If you stick your hand over the fan on the condenser, it should be blowing warm air. The warmer the air, the better it's running.

    Also, again like X said: CHANGE YOUR DAMN FILTERS! see that clogged up filter from 3 years ago that you just replaced? That's what your evaporator coil is going to look like if you don't and once that happens, you're ****ed.


    Another way to help keep the house cool is an attic fan. They typically come w a thermostat that turns on between 90-100F. Their only function is to move the extremely hot air in the attic with cooler outside air.

    I will discuss attic ventilation when I do the do it yourself attic insulation segment in a few days. Also, don't pile stuff up around your slab mounted AC units. The thing needs to breath. If you have your crap piled up around it, it must work harder and longer to do the same job, costing you more cash.
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    Or, I could just move outside of the coverage area of LADWP and lower my per KWh charges by over half.

    ****ING BASTARD HIGHWAY ROBBER MOTHER****ERS.

    Good tips, though. I'll have to think about flying an extra trip or two to have someone do that crap for me...because me and small attics and fiberglass insulation and spiders and **** like that don't get along well at all.
    Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Bullets are cheap. Life is priceless.


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    FBJ
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    Here's an interesting one I watched just a couple weeks ago when my master bath's fiberglass tub bottom cracked at the sides and started leaking water:

    Call a tub repair guy. He came out and charged me $450. Quite honestly, it was a repair I wasn't able to handle myself, even if I had the time. The tub was under-mounted to a bunch of irreplaceable tile of the tub and shower surround. What he did was cut the bottom out of the tub with a rotary tool, sopped up the standing water underneath with a towel and took note of the fact that there was a proper underlayment beneath the tub (but that the tub had been improperly mounted 1/4" above it, allowing the bottom to flex and, over time, to break). He filled in the area with expansion foam, then put the tub floor back. He then stuffed the gaps with fiberglass and glass taped over them. Then he poured a new layer of self-leveling resin over that (about 1/4" thick), and sloped it towards the drain. About an hour later (his lunch hour) the new resin was hard enough to sand smooth. After tack-clothing it, he sprayed new bone-colored "enamel" over the whole tub. Aside from some minor pin-holing (which is unavoidable unless you spend a LOT of time on the glass work), the damned thing looked like a brand new tub. Only took six hours to do the whole job, and he worked CLEAN, leaving me nothing to clean up.

    After seeing the job done, I could probably do it myself now. Still, six hours of work like that at $450 I think is a really good value. If faced with this again (which I shouldn't be since there's a 10 year warranty), I'd probably just fly an extra trip or two and pay to have it done.

    Great idea for a thread, Randy.

    Here's some things I'd like to know:

    1) I've got some facia boards that are rotting and need to be replaced. Can I do that myself without wrecking the roof edge?

    2) What's the best way to ensure we aren't getting shafted by a service company?

    3) Where are some places on-line where I can purchase pieces and parts to common major home appliances that need occasional replacement due to wear?
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    All Star x-wingcamewest's Avatar




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    Yes. If your good with a saws all you cut any shingle nails or staples. Other wise I'd use a hand held straight hack saw. You may find the rafter tails are dry rotted or insect damaged. dig out damaged areas, apply a wood hardener and fill will bondo. smooth with sander. atatch new facias and paint

    Get several quotes or references from other satisfied customers. Check them out as best as you can. There is a web site out there that does a lot of this for you but I can't remember its name.

    Not sure if you can do it on line, but Coast Appliance has or can get anything you want. I dealt with the one in the San Gabriel Valley, but I'm sure they have more than one LA location. For Plumbing parts, especially hard to find ones, Georges Plumbing in Pasadena is the place to go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBJ View Post
    Here's some things I'd like to know:

    1) I've got some facia boards that are rotting and need to be replaced. Can I do that myself without wrecking the roof edge?
    As long as it's not fascia that has a soffit on the otherside (for ventilation) then it should be cake. #1 tip, grab your smart phone and for reference when reassembling, snap a ton of pics from all angles before you take the old fascia down. Carefully lift any overlaying shingles, remove old fascia (or carefully cut rotted section out). Take not to where they've secured the old fascia down, for future reference. Once the piece you're replacing is down you can easily replicate it with a new board. It would probably be easiest to paint/stain The new piece while it's down. Install new fascia securing it in the same manner the existing one was. Once complete make sure your flashing and shingles overhang your fascis by 1/4" or so

    But if I were you, I would wait for Randy's response. I'm sure he has a ton more insight/experience on this. Haha!

    Edit: never mind, He beat me to it.
    Last edited by Fropitar; September 10th, 2012 at 08:58 PM.
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    The tip isn't to install vinyl fascia board so you don't have to deal with crap like termites?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    The tip isn't to install vinyl fascia board so you don't have to deal with crap like termites?
    Didn't know they made vinyl fascia!


    Anyone have any tips on how to spray/match knockdown on drywall?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fropitar View Post
    Didn't know they made vinyl fascia!


    Anyone have any tips on how to spray/match knockdown on drywall?
    Only reason I knew was one of those construction/home improvement companies that always leave flyers on the doorstep had it listed as a product they have/install. It's probably expensive but there's also something for the not having to deal with things like termites and having to periodically paint.

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