Q&A / 

February 19, 2013 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

This coming weekend I'll be speaking at the dazzling Capital Home and Garden Show at the Dulles Expo Center just west of Washington DC.

I'll be at the show on Sunday, February 24th, speaking at 2 and 4 p.m.

I'd LOVE for you to stop by and be part of the presentation. I'll be talking about some fascinating new products and tools, and, most importantly, answering your questions about the problems at your home.

Do you want to have a private meetup at the show? I can do that!

You have to reply to this email and put in DC MeetUp in the Subject Line. We can meet at Noon right on the show floor and chit chat!

Capital Home + Garden Show logo

You can get a substantial discount on your admission tickets into the show if you use this promo code:


Would you like me to come to your Home and Garden show?

It's EASY!

All you have to do is contact the management company that runs the show in your town and ask that they book me.



Several days ago, I got an email from Michael Malhotra. He lives in some nice, warm local where he can seal his deck. Congrats on that Michael, as the lake outside my house has about one-foot of ice on it!

He wanted to know what was the best "crystal clear wood sealer" that I used in my test last year.

My reply to Michael was, "They all FAILED. In fact, they started to fail within 60 days of application."

deck sealer test planks

The failure was much worse on cedar decking than treated lumber. I suspect the reason for that is the copper leaching from the treated lumber. Copper is a natural biocide, so it does a fantastic job of minimizing mildew and mold buildup.

I'll be publishing some dramatic high-resolution photos of my ongoing test of the fifteen or so deck sealers that co-operated in the test. Look for news about that in late March.



How would you like to win a new Dodge truck? One worth $50,000?

It's possible YOU could be the winner!! How do I know that?

Well, this contest is being run by Bosch Power Tools. They just announced two weeks ago a collaborative marketing effort with Dodge Trucks.

Guess who won the Take-Back-Your-Day Bosch contest back before Christmas????

An AsktheBuilder.com subscriber, that's who!!!!!!

It's possible lightning can strike twice. You may win this contest - but only if you take the 30 seconds and enter it.

I'm telling you right now, GO ENTER THE CONTEST. There's just a few days before time runs out. The contest ends on February 28, 2013

But you know what will happen - you'll forget to do it.

STOP NOW AND ENTER THE CONTEST. Click here to enter or just click the image of the truck.



You may not be aware of a newer power tool that's revolutionizing how people drive screws and bolts.

It's the impact driver.

When I say that, my guess is the image in your mind is that shiny air-powered tool you see tire jockeys use to put lug nuts on car and truck wheels. You know that high-pitched Zzzzzzittt, Zzzzzzittt noise it makes.

Well, imagine a much smaller tool powered by lithium-ion batteries that can drive just about any screw and most lag bolts you'd use around your home.

The advantages of an impact driver are many. First, it's less wear and tear on your wrist and hand. Second, it's faster. Third, you can easily control the depth of drive. Fourth, you have fewer stripped screw heads.

I can go on and on, but if you've not tried one of these tools, you MUST.

I became a full-blown convert about two years ago. I use my impact driver just about every week.

Want to see a few impact drivers? How about one that I use?

Click Here. Once you do, scroll down the list of tools. You'll see the Bosch Drill / Driver combo kit.

While at the Amazon website, just type in "impact drivers" in the search engine at the top of the page and you'll see an amazing variety.



Last week, I gritched about how I had to shovel literally a TON of snow because of a bad house design. That got James Dambrogio's attention. Read what he sent me:


As a school trained architect (I am an intern at this time so I can't legally call myself an architect) I take offense to your comments.

The final design of your home may have resulted from a multitude of conditions at the time of its construction with one possibility being the negligence of the architect. I can think of several scenarios where the fault is not solely borne by the architect.

Often times the client insists upon a design that is aesthetically displeasing, unpractical, or displays poor construction practices which we take strong objection to but as the employee of the owner we fulfill their desires.

Builders have been known to alter designs after we issue construction documents. Some municipalities do not even require that a residential build be designed by a licensed architect at all. And of course, just as in any profession there are good eggs and bad eggs.

To make a general statement about "an architect" is irresponsible, doesn't paint an accurate picture of the value an architect can and often does provide to a client, and reverses the hard work of the AIA to educate the general public and to forward our profession.

I enjoy the newsletter and am looking forward to the exterior door install video series. Keep up the good work just be a little more mindful us lowly architects.

Best Regards,"


James, you're correct. I apologize. There are numerous places to put the blame, and I just picked one place.

Sorry about that. Not only were my back and arm muscles aching, you can see it affected the muscle between my ears too.

I also got a few emails from folks wondering how I could purchase a house with this handicap.

Well, that's easy. I lived for fifty-five years in Cincinnati, OH where the average snowfall event was about 3 inches. A 6-inch snowfall would paralyze the city bringing it to it's knees. Usually the snow would melt from the roofs within a week because the temperatures would moderate.

In other words, rarely did we ever get loads of snow that created ice dams or did vast amounts of snow accumulate that needed to be raked from roofs, etc.

Heck, I never ever recall seeing snow rakes being sold at any hardware stores in Cincinnati.

That's why I just didn't even think about what would happen when I walked up the front walk of this house.

But I've learned my lesson. Never again will I own a house with a design like this.

I may have to rake roofs off, that's easy. However, once the snow falls to the ground, I'll NOT have to shovel it or move it again. It can just stay put until Mother Nature comes in the spring or a dragon happens to fly by for a visit.


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