A good tip for sweating copper to a plastic outlet box

If you are sweating copper water lines to a plastic outlet box at a laundry or fridge or any appliance, you have to be very careful not to melt the plastic box with your torch. At the same time, it is a delicate balance because you need to make sure it is HOT enough to give you a good connection. Otherwise, your pipes will leak, and that is BAD!

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We wrap our pipes with wet rags around the connection to the outlet box while sweating the connections.  This drops the temperature at the specific location of the plastic that needs to be protected and, meanwhile, allows the region of the pipe being soldered to get significantly hot enough to make the connection.

A very strong residential entry lockset

There are lots of entry locksets out there.  Once in a while, I get calls to come and secure doors after break-ins. When I explain to homeowners how easy it is to break through a door and actually show them the assembly and anatomy of a door and lock, the homeowners are usually shocked how easy an intruder can get through their door.

There are a couple of aspects to consider. An old friend from Havana told me that when he was growing up, people didn’t even have door locks in the city and no one stole from one another. The repercussions were extreme and that alone was enough of a deterrent, interestingly. Then he came to the US and was shocked to have to be on guard from crooks from every angle. It is an interesting perspective.

Here too in Capitol Hill, for home security, it all comes down to perspective and application. Most crooks are just looking to steal things when no one is looking. And, although crime as a whole continues to decline in DC, some crooks will smash a door in.  And 99 percent of entry doors can be smashed in easily with a swift boot to the lockset.

One way to stiffen your door is to install a steel angle or jamb stiffener with strong grade 4 or better steel fasteners all the way back to the structural framing. A good locket can also protect from picking and kicking. (It is a different topic, but I am also always amazed how easy pros can pick a regular Schlage or Quikset keyway.)  A disc tumbler or Super Spool Lock are a lot harder to pick and the hardened steel provides an additional level of security.

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This picture shows a Super Spool Lock I installed recently on a door that I rebuilt after it was broken in.  It will be very hard to break into this door again.

What’s in YOUR sewer?

I took a look in the gutter in my block the other day.  One of my neighbors had a guy working on their HVAC system and the guy accidentally spilled the fuel oil tank that he was taking out. I and the other neighbors got involved a bit to try to keep our local (and greater) environment clean as possible.

The EPA also came out to check it all out. While he was poking around, I got a chance to see into the storm sewer collection inlet. It doesn’t look great, but it was kind of what I was expecting. DPW doesn’t help much with this because they spill almost as much trash onto the alley as they collect twice every week. They make a mess, but that is how the city’s trash is collected. In the future, we may have other methods. I do know the bum that drinks the MD 20’s though. I will tell him to dispose of his bottles properly next time I see him.DSC07308I

Capitol Hill Outdoor Kitchen

We just finished an outdoor kitchen project that was a lot of fun to build.  Kitchens always have tricky aspects, but we came up with a lot of solutions to make this one work well in the outdoors.

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For outdoor cabinets, there are only so many good options, and the lead times on stainless cabinets, for example, are ridiculously long.  Here, we built a frame for our countertop out of steel. This was way cheaper than stainless cabinets and it is also structurally as strong as can be and will hold up well over the years outdoors. We installed a 3 cm granite countertop and a stainless undermount sink. We kept the sink small because the countertop space will be more useful than the sink space since this space will be used more for entertaining than regular dining.

The steel frame underneath the countertop provides storage space, but we needed a way to conceal the space for aesthetic reasons and still leave the space accessible. We used an exterior-grade cement siding with PVC trim on treated plywood. All elements will hold up well outdoors and the look matches the adjacent exterior. The panels are hung on z-clips, so they lift right up and the space below can be used for storage.

We notched the panel to allow the passage of a natural gas line to service a gas grill. We hooked up a 5.3 CF fridge that provides a lot of room for drinks and food for the grill.

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In the spring, this will be one of the nicest rooftops in Capitol Hill.  This was a fun project!

The 12-Gauge Garage

I discovered a great personal website: 12-gaugegarage.com

The owner has a perspective and style that I really admire.  It is a really cool website and concept.

I spend a lot of time designing and building and organizing my workshops here on the Hill.  The biggest challenge here on the Hill is that you can hardly find a large space and they are expen$ive!  So, like this guy, I spend a lot of energy making solutions to do more with less space.


Preservation Cafe: Winterizing Your Home

Preservation Cafe: Winterizing Your Home

Posted on October 19th, 2014 by Elizabeth Nelson

Capitol Hill contractor, Gary Barnhart, will provide tips on preparing your home to withstand winter weather, Wednesday, November 19,  2014 from 6:30-7:15 pm at Ebenezers Coffee House, 2nd and F Streets NE.  Learn from an expert and be “snug as a bug in a rug” when cold winds blow. There’s still time to get the work done before temperatures plummet. Special attention will be paid to reducing heating costs, preventing pipes from freezing, and avoiding storm damage. The event is free and handicapped-accessible and the public is encouraged to attend.  No reservations required.

Click to follow the link to the original article at CHRS.org.

Inspector’s Handbook: HVAC Condensate Discharge Lines

Working on old Capitol Hill homes, I commonly find problems with condensate discharge lines in many HVAC systems. Even when I find them currently functioning properly, they are often built out of code. The common code problems I find with HVAC condensate discharge lines are as follows:

1. Sizing — the building code requires 3/4″-minimum diameter piping to be used.

2. Materials — the building code allows for copper, CPVC, PVC, and polyethylene pipe to be used for condensate discharge drains.

3. Interference with other systems — condensate discharge drains are not permitted to enter into overflow pans, or drains for other systems.

Following the code allows pipes to discharge with lower tendency for backup and destruction from flooding caused by backups.