Q&A / 

February 9, 2011 AsktheBuilder Tips And Newsletter

What's in This Newsletter?

Latest News
Facebook Fan Page a Hit!
Zibra Open-It
Meet-up Reports
Water Pressure Booster Pump
Construction Heaters
Amprobe Tools
Latest Book I Read
Digital Thermostat
Remember, Do it Right, Not Over!

I do product reviews frequently. Please read my Disclosure Policy to understand the relationship between me and the companies that make the products or offer the services I review.


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Latest News

DragonI'd like to talk to the idiot medieval knights who slayed the last dragons. We've had a constant flow of storms here in the Northeast and although I LOVE the beauty of the snow, I'm growing tired of raking it off the roof here and dealing with it near my front door.

The person who designed the house I'm in should not be allowed near a drafting board or CAD program ever again. I have this U-shaped design where a long garage is parallel with the long house. It creates this 10-foot-wide canyon that ends at the front door. Three roofs converge in this area. When you rake the snow off the roofs or even go to shovel the walk, there's no place to put the snow by this time of year. A handy pet dragon would make short work of the snow.

Last year I was driving my son back to college in Burlington, VT and he had the idea of the future. He said, "Dad, in a few years the snow plows will just have lasers. The lasers will melt the snow and create a dry road." You know what, he may be right. We'll see.

Facebook Fan Page a Hit!

My new AsktheBuilder Facebook fan page is really getting lots of attraction. Are you on Facebook? If so, consider stopping by and click the button to become a fan. Then you'll get great tips and news blips that I don't put in this newsletter.


I'm trying to get you to share photos of your projects and the things you're working on. I want to see what's happening at your home.

One of the great benefits of the fan page, from my perspective, happened yesterday. Nadine, a fan, alerted me that AsktheBuilder was mentioned two days ago on the CBS Morning News show. Had it not been for the post by Nadine, I'd have never known about that. Thanks Nadine!

Zibra Open-It

I have the pleasure to review new tools on a frequent basis. Some are great and others are ho-hum. I only tell you about the ones that I feel are fantastic and will really help you.

Zibra Open-ItAbout two months ago, I got one in the mail that I felt would be a dud. It was some funky looking shear or scissors. It's called the Zibra Open-It. I ignored it, but my daughter Meghan immediately looked at it and opened it up. It came in one of those impossible-to-open clear plastic containers. You know what I mean? The ones you use a razor knife on and practically kill yourself as you slice through the plastic.

Meghan opened the tool, read the instructions and started to cut up the packaging as if it was paper. And believe me, it WORKED! She handed me the tool and said, "Dad, this is going to save lots of trips to emergency rooms for stitches." She's right. I've always worried when cutting up packages like that. In the handle you also have a tiny Philips and slotted screwdriver and a retractable utility knife. You're going to love this tool.

Here's a link to Amazon where you can buy it. It's an affiliate link. I get a tiny commission if you buy the tool.

Meet-Up Reports

Just over a month ago, I had a blast one chilly afternoon in Washington, DC. I was in town to witness New Hampshire's newest US Senator Kelly Ayotte being sworn into office. After that ceremony, I was picked up by subscriber John Davis and taken to Pat Troy's Irish Pub in nearby Alexandria. Joining us there were John Carpenter, Jay Brinkmann, Oscar Paquette, Jason Pauwley, Doug Kingman, and John Davis' wife and daughter Christine. We had a great conversation about many topics.

Then a week later I had another meet-up in Orlando, FL while at the Builders Show. We all had a great breakfast. I made a mistake at that one and forgot to write down the names of all who braved the chilly Orlando weather to come out. What's more, I didn't have a great camera with me. From now on, we'll create a photo album of all the meet ups.

I was wondering for those who live within driving distance to central New Hampshire if you'd want to have a sleepover meet up? You and your significant other would rent a room for one night - you could stay the entire weekend if you want - at the Atwood Inn. Wait till you see their new website and the videos of all the rooms!! Go watch the video for the White Mountain Room, but be sure to watch the video first on the home page for it to make sense.

My plan would be to meet you at the inn at about 4:30 on a Friday or Saturday night. I'd order in some pizza for dinner and we would chit chat about anything you want till about 9 pm. Everyone would hit the rack and then be downstairs for breakfast at 8 am. I'd stay till Noon continuing the conversation and then everyone would go their separate ways.

We could talk about problems at your house, I could help you with planning for an upcoming project, etc. That's what we did in DC as Oscar brought great photos and drawings of a water problem he was trying to solve. But any topic is fair game. At the DC event, the conversation drifted to politics as you might imagine.

Only seven couples can do this sleepover at the Atwood Inn. If others want to come, you'd have to stay at other nearby motels. If this is of interest to you, send me an email with Sleepover in the subject line. We'll see if we can pull it off.

Water Pressure Booster Pump

Last week, I had a new water pressure booster pump installed at my house. The early reports are AMAZING. I want the pump to operate for another week before I share all the details. But suffice it to say that it's easy to install if you have moderate soldering and electrical skills, it's compact, and it comes from the factory completely assembled.

This pump will work if you're on a well like me or if you have poor city pressure. The entire installation only took two hours. The best part, I've now got unbelievable 80 psi at a full flow rate of 10 gallons per minute throughout the entire house.

I'll share photos and will have a video done for you just as soon as I let it run another week. So be patient!

Construction Heaters

Two days ago, I did one of my 15-Minute Consults. The woman had a room addition under construction and there was all sorts of water leaking around the windows, under the bottom plate of the walls, and icicles hanging from the cantilevered floor overhang.

After talking it out with this distraught woman, I traced the problem to a vent-free propane heater the contractor was using to stay warm while working. When you burn any fossil fuel, it creates water vapor as a byproduct. There was so much water vapor it condensed on the cold wall surfaces saturating all the insulation. It was a mess. Don't let this happen on your job.

Amprobe Tools

Amprobe Digital MultimeterI've got more tools news. In the past month, I've also had a chance to test drive several Amprobe Tools. I used a very slick pocket multimeter to check to see if a zone thermostat here at my house was delivering line voltage to a circulating pump. The meter confirmed the pump was getting voltage. It was easy to use!

Then I used their cool non-contact voltage tester that allows you to find hidden wires behind walls with pretty good accuracy.

And yesterday, I used the plug-in continuity tester to help me isolate a circuit breaker so I could kill the power to a circuit while I moved an outlet.

All in all, the tools worked perfectly. The above link is an affiliate link so you know.

Latest Book I Read

Shadow Divers by Robert KursonIf you click the above link to look at the Amprobe Multimeter, you can see the last book I read. It was Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson. It's all about two weekend divers who successfully identified a German U-boat about 60 miles off the New Jersey coastline. It was an sensational read. I got an enormous education about deep-sea diving as the U-boat was down about 230 feet. From what I gleaned from the book, there aren't too many who venture that deep in the water. You'll like this book if you love history and thrilling narrative.

That's an affiliate link if you're keeping track.

I'm now reading the 5,000 Year Leap. Next on tap: In the Wake of Galleons.

Digital Thermostat

I'm getting ready to test a Venstar digital thermostat soon. I need to make sure I can connect it to one of the thermostats that operates one of the zones of my boiler. I've been crazy busy and have not had the chance to look at this setup in great detail. Here's what I'm looking at:


100 Swain Rd.
Meredith, NH 03253, USA


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