Q&A / 

May 14, 2013 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

My son used to hate guacamole. But he's started to acquire a taste and said he would eat some if I made it. He loves helping Kathy cook in the kitchen, so he helped me make some as an appetizer on Saturday night using a recipe I've developed over the past few years.

When he took his first bite with a blue corn tortilla chip, he exclaimed, "WOW, that's the most amazing guacamole I've ever tasted!"

He questioned my ingredients and said he had never heard of one being used in guacamole. See what you think of the mystery ingredient below. How about you make some and tell me what you think:


© Copyright 2103 Tim Carter

The following includes Tim's revised recipe.

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup diced red or Vidalia (sweet) onion
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 crushed cloves of fresh garlic
  • ½ cup diced ripe tomato
  • 1/3 cup diced jalapeno pepper

Blend ingredients with a fork ensuring avocados still have some small chunks the size of baby peas.

Surgeon General's WARNING: Eating too much of Tim's AsktheBuilder.com guacamole can lead to a serious addiction and weight gain. Only consume small amounts. Eat only in the presence of a food buddy to prevent overdose.

Let me know what you think of my guac!


You may not know this, but I've been a master plumber for about 35 years. I've always enjoyed plumbing. Just about a week ago I shared a story with my buddy Jim Cluett about tapping a trunk line sewer.

A trunk line sewer is one that drains quite a few houses. This sewer line was pretty far down in elevation from the subdivisions it was connected to. Remember your high school physics?

Force = mass X acceleration

I waited until about 10 a.m. when I thought everyone was at work before I started drilling into the precast concrete pipe. Close your eyes. Conjure up a image of a mountain stream cascading down a bunch of rocks.

I described my surprise when I discovered the sewer was running about 80 percent capacity and the raging torrent of you-know-what was right at the edge of the tapping hole I created. That was WAY too close for comfort, let me tell you.

But let's now talk about more pleasant things like successful LEAK-FREE solder joints on copper tubing! If you're afraid to solder copper because you feel you'll get a leak, I'm going to help you get past that.

It's so easy to solder copper tubing and not have a leak. Watch my video on soldering copper.

How to Solder Copper Pipe Video ThumbnailOne tiny little point I forgot to mention in the video, although I did just add an annotation note in the video, is DON'T TOUCH the copper tubing with your hands after you have cleaned it with the sandpaper or polishing cloth. You don't want to get skin oils, dirt, etc. on the bare copper. This will interfere with the solder bonding to the copper.

The reason it's so important to get the copper perfectly shiny is simple. Removing the oxidized layer of copper, the dark-brown copper or green, prepares it to molecularly BOND with the solder. That shiny copper, you can't hear it, is SCREAMING to bond with other elements so it's stable. The solder fulfills that chemical desire.

Happy soldering! Let me know about your success. Always practice on some scrap copper tubing before you really try to tackle a real water line.

Get comfortable knowing when the copper tubing and fitting is hot enough to melt the solder without the torch flame being present. You can actually TURN OFF the torch once the tubing is heated and complete the soldering.

Remember, you can't solder copper tubing if there's water present. The water prevents the copper from getting hot enough to melt the solder. The steam also can foul and contaminate the shiny copper.


Wow, that's a mouthful. Two weeks ago, I believe I told you about the Form Footer.

Hank emailed me after that mention ran and said:

"Those pier forms are expensive. Adds almost $500-800 to the cost of a project depending on how many you need."

Hank's comment is a perfect example of what happens when you don't do a good job of communicating! And I'm not talking about Hank!!

I'm talking about ME!

Here's what I sent back to Hank (I did expand on my original reply to Hank to make it clear for you):


So let's examine the problem:

Your challenge - when deciding to pour concrete piers - is to:

  • Go buy steel
  • Go buy the vertical tube form
  • Cut the steel
  • Bend the steel
  • Cut the tube
  • Figure a way to support the tube
  • Create a structural connection between footer and form

Now add up all those trips to different stores and the time.

I guarantee you it will be between $500 and $800 - remember, your time counts for something.

With the Form Footer, you don't need to make any trips anywhere. No gasoline is used. No wear and tear on your car. No large cardboard tube strapped to your car. No reinforcing steel scratching your paint as it bounces hanging out from your trunk.

The Form Footer is shipped to your home, and in the time you spend making your *first* trip to the building supply house, you already have the forms assembled, in place and you're pouring concrete! No tools needed!"

Don't underestimate the difficulty of using a traditional cardboard pier form. Not for a second.

If you're building a deck or need concrete piers for any project, you should seriously consider the Form Footer. I so wish these were available back when I was building every day!


When I travel to southern California, I almost always fly into the Burbank airport. I saw this hilarious video shot in Burbank last week. It says it was published on May 9, 2013.

Video ThumbnailThis has nothing to do with home improvement, but I just thought you'd really enjoy it. It brought tears to my eyes it was so good. Watch the video NOW before reading anything else.


Did you watch the video?

Come on, tell the truth.

You're still on dial up? Okay, you're forgiven, but everyone else better have watched the video.

Okay, for the record, I went to snopes.com to see if this was not real. There was nothing there. But in a random chat this morning with my good friend Chuck Eglinton, where I happened to mention the video, he shot me a link to a story that gives you all sorts of background it.

I was really hoping the video was spontaneous, but in this case it appears it was absolutely staged.

But what the heck! It's still funny and it's something you could absolutely see happening.

I KNOW PEOPLE that would react as they did and sing at the gas station. I know I'd engage the Pumpcaster in conversation! But if he asked me to sing, the only reason the video would go viral is because my singing is so bad.

Laughter and humor really help ratchet down stress. You and I need far more laughter in our lives each day.


Back about a month ago I mentioned in this newsletter the DaVinci Roofscapes Shake-it-Up contest you could enter to win a $5,000 makeover of the exterior of your home. You may have been one of the folks who made the FINALS!!!! Woo Hoo!!!

All you had to do to enter was send in a simple photo of your home and then an artist, using computer software, was able to transform the exterior of the house to show you what your home *could* look like.

Please go look at the five finalists and vote for which house you feel deserves the makeover. Look at all five entries and then vote for the house that's going to look like the Belle of the Ball once they spruce it up with the $5,000 worth of Sweet Moola!

Next time I promote a contest here in this newsletter, you simply must enter. Last fall the winner of the Bosch Take-Back-Your-Day contest was an AsktheBuilder.com subscriber. Let's do it again!!! Let's see if we can't produce the winner of this DaVinci contest.

Go to the DaVinci Roofscapes Facebook page and VOTE. It's easy. Go VOTE NOW.


I'll be at the Fryeburg, Maine Home and Garden show all weekend in my Stain Solver booth. I'll be there with my son and we'll be doing cleaning demonstrations all day.

Stop by and see me! If you do intend to go to the show, I have 5 FREE TICKETS to save you some sweet moola. But to get them in time, you NEED TO notify me today so I can mail them to you.

I'll also be doing two FREE AsktheBuilder.com seminars - one on Friday afternoon and one on Sunday morning. I hope to see you at the show!


A few months ago, my UPS man delivered a Rockwell cordless drill / driver to me. I've used and tested many cordless drill / drivers as you might imagine.

After a while they all seem the same. But this one was different. I was immediately taken by its shape, size and the way it fit in my hand.

I don't have huge hands, but I would gander they're larger than most women's hands. All the same, I thought that this cordless drill / driver would be the perfect power tool for a woman. It's well-balanced, has power and it's very smooth when it's working.

Now, this doesn't mean that men should not take a look at it! I really enjoyed testing this tool and loved everything about it.

If you dropped the ball on Mothers Day, here's a great belated gift. If you're looking for a sweet Fathers Day gift, you better go give this a hard look.

Go look at the technical specs on this drill / driver now. You get TWO batteries when you purchase it. Wait till you feel it in your hand ladies. After you get one, PLEASE email me and tell me if I wasn't correct about this being perfect for women.

More Tips and Treats next week!


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