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Bad DIY Videos on YouTube

new house framing 2x6s engineered lumber beam

Bad DIY Videos - This new home in central New Hampshire has 2x6 exterior walls. Minimize air leakage and your heating bills will be very reasonable. Copyright 2024 Tim Carter

Bad DIY Videos on YouTube Can Cost You Thousands of Dollars

You may think that YouTube is an oasis of helpful home improvement videos. After all, anyone with a smartphone can upload a video in seconds. Each week I scour YouTube for videos I feel may help you save time and money. With each passing day, I’m convinced that YouTube is a cesspool of bad advice. For every decent video that contains good information, I see twenty or thirty bad DIY videos that are created by fools.

Here's a screenshot from a YouTube Short. This worker is applying a treated 2x4 under the metal threshold of an exterior door.

youtube short treated lumber under door threshold

CLICK HERE to watch this 15-second video. Note there is no flashing under the door as it sits on a slab. Rain will come off the door, travel down the threshold, travel back across the 2x4 and very likely flow UNDER the door. This is wrong on so many levels.

1/2-Inch Threaded Rod vs Huge Tree

Here's a second example of what NOT TO DO. Look at these two screenshots from this YouTube Short:

man drilling through tree

Here's a man boring a hole between the two massive trunks of a tree.

1/2 inch threaded rod in tree

This is the finished installation. Do you really think those tiny washers and the small amount of metal on the rod threads can resist the tens of thousands of pounds of leverage the tree can exert?

You may not be old enough to remember the Kansas City Skywalk Collapse that killed 114 people. An inferior design just like what you see above caused the collapse.

Talk to any seasoned arborist and she/he will tell you the BEST way to prevent the tree from cracking is to cable it up about 15 or 20 feet in the air.

More Examples of Bad Videos

Allow me to share a few examples. There are a disturbing number of videos showing an easy way to create concrete walkways, sidewalks, and door stoops. The uninformed folks on the video purchase bags of dry concrete mix from a local hardware store, lumber yard, or big box store.

Do NOT Do Dry Mix Concrete

They pour this dry concrete mix into forms and drag a board across the forms to make the top surface smooth. Some folks do fancy imprints or designs in the dry powder. They then lightly mist the surface of the powder to start the chemical hydration reaction. This reaction causes microscopic crystals to form that act like Velcro™. These crystals, when allowed to completely coat each individual piece of sand and stone, are the glue that holds the aggregate in concrete.

After an hour or so, the uninformed video hosts start to flood the top surface with water. It begins to soak into the dry powder just below the surface. My guess is the video hosts never took a geology course. The heavy water grabs onto the ultra-fine cement powder and starts to transport it down into the mix.

Have you ever seen what happens in a rainstorm that falls on dry dusty soil? The heavy rainwater captures the ultra-fine silt and begins to move it down and through the soil. This is why creek water turns muddy just after the storm. Go to the creek hours after the storm and the water is magically clear.

Think about it. How do you know if you’ve added enough water to the concrete mix? How do you know if you added too much? How strong is the concrete just under the surface where most/all of the cement powder has been carried away by the water?

I’m currently working with the Portland Cement Association and the National Ready Mix Concrete Association and their scientists to prove that this method of pouring concrete is perhaps the worst way to do it. Mixing concrete the traditional way with the proper amount of water coats the sand and stone with the cement paste. This is the best way to pour concrete hands down.

2x6 vs Double 2x4 Exterior Walls

Perhaps the worst videos are those I see that tell you how to create thicker wood-framed walls when building a home or room addition. Many pooh-pooh 2x6 walls and urge you to build two separate 2x4 walls separated by an inch or so. These super-insulated walls are supposed to save you big money on your heating bills. Not one of the videos I’ve watched bothers to do the math for you.

If you follow the advice in these videos without doing the math, you’ll be in for a huge surprise. It’s all about payback. Whenever you spend money on something that claims will lower your utility bills, you must determine how many months/years it will take to claw back in fuel costs what you spent up front on the improvement. Only after you get back all this money do you then start to finally save money.

I decided to do the math on this double-wall method of construction. My imaginary two-story house was 50 feet wide and 26 feet deep. It had standard 8-foot ceilings on both floors.

My calculations showed you would need 228 extra 2x4 studs, 40 2x4x16s for the top and bottom plates for the extra walls, clear pine for the window and door extension jambs, and 50 rolls of 6-inch fiberglass. The total cost of these materials in 2024 here in New Hampshire, with no sales tax, was $6,125.00.

It’s safe to say the extra labor, overhead, and profit to install all of these things might be around $10,000.00. The total upcharge for the super-insulated exterior walls would be about $16,000.00.

Look online and you’ll discover the 2023 average heating cost in the USA for homeowners was the following: $931 for natural gas, $2,354 for heating oil, and $1,359 for electricity.

The heat loss through the windows, doors, attic, and floor will be the same. You’ll reduce your heat loss only through the walls. A twenty-percent savings projection would be generous. This means you might save $186 per year if you heat with natural gas, $420 if you heat with oil, and $271 if you heat with electricity. If you use air-conditioning, you’ll save maybe an extra $150 per year.

It’s your turn to do the rest of the math. Tell me how many years it would take you to break even. If you heat with natural gas, it would only take you 86 years to break even. The break-even calculation is much more complex because of interest and investment income you could have achieved had you not spent the money. The bottom line is BEWARE of what you see on YouTube.

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