Automatic Air Vent for Drain Lines

All plumbing fixture drain lines need to be vented. The air vent allows for air in to the drain system so water will flow properly. Think of how a soda bottle goes gulb when you poor it as the air goes into the bottle to replace the liquid coming out. Without the introduction of air, a vacuum will form and the liquid will stop flowing.

See our article on Properly Venting a Plumbing Fixture

A drain system therefore must also be vented. Installing a vent line in some areas, such as a kitchen island or a basement can be an issue particularly if the walls are all closed.

Using an automatic air vent in a cabinet or exposed if you don’t mind the look can solve this issue.

These devices have been used for decades and are approved by must building codes. Be sure to check with your local code official before installing one.

Check out the video below to see how to install an automatic air vent.


Properly Venting a Plumbing Fixture

Before you decide to add a plumbing fixture for a bathroom, laundry room, or a utility sink, you need to be sure that the drain line is properly vented. Without proper venting your sink will drain slow, gurgle or back up.

If it is an existing drain it shouldn’t be an issue. If you are installing a new waste line, venting it is very important.

The vent allows air to enter the system to prevent air locks and also allows sewer gases to exit the system outside of the living space.

Glenda at SF gives us some great advice on sewer venting.

Venting Basics

The old-fashioned method of venting featured a separate vent pipe for every fixture but that led to multiple vent pipes exiting the roof. Today, plumbers combine vents, and even a home with four or more bathrooms typically has only one main vent-and-soil stack that exits the roof at the top and curves to form the horizontal sewer drain at the bottom. A good drain, waste and vent layout takes bathroom, laundry room and kitchen configuration into consideration when planning where the main vent-and-soil stack is located and how each drain and vent will connect. Drainpipes all slope downward and tie into the stack, while vent pipes extend upward and meet the stack higher on the line, often in the attic. The basic rule is that a vent must not connect to the stack lower on the stack than a drain connection.

Mechanical Vents, Air Admittance Valves and Best Practices

In the case of a remodeling, it’s not always possible to install vertical vents through finished walls, although that should be the first option. When this situation arises, it might be possible to install an air admittance valve on a sink or tub drain line. An AAV attaches to an individual fixture’s drain line in the wall nearest the fixture. AAVs replace the old mechanical vents, which are not up to code in most communities. It’s essential that all plumbing plans be cleared with the local building authority. In many communities, a licensed plumber must either do the work or oversee the project.

If you find that running a full vent line is just not possible, Click Here for instructions on Air Admittance Valve installation.

Before Calling a Service Man, Check These First.



You wake up one morning and realize, it is a little colder in the house than usual. You go check and find out the heating system is not working. 

To save yourself some time and money, here is a list of things to check before calling the service man.

Some of these things may easily solve the issue and get your system back up and running in no time. While other will help you explain to the service company where the issue is. This will help you also understand the some basics to keep you from ripped off.

While checking a gas system, if you smell gas, leave the house immediately, do not anything electrical, such as light switches, etc. Get out, then call 911.


  • Check the thermostat first. Is it working? If digital, is it displaying numbers? Do you see a low battery warning? Change batteries and see if that restores heat. If you have an old fashioned thermostat, check that it seems to reflect an approximate temp based on how you feel in the house. Yes, $3 in batteries can save you $100 house call. I replaced mine this week when I dropped it and cracked the LED screen – don’t do that!  How to replace a thermostat. It is a bit dorky; excuse my bad singing but you’ll get the point.
  • Check the circuit breaker box (or fuse box for those oldies but goodies). Make sure all circuits are on. Hopefully the heater is labeled. When in doubt, push all switches firmly towards the ON position. Power is needed for electric base boards of course, but it powers all the other furnaces too.
  • Check the fill gauge on your oil tank. Keep a record of when you order oil and about how long it lasts so you can avoid running out especially in frigid cold weather. Make a simple chart and hang it by the tank. Mark your calendar so you can order on time.
  • Check that the switch on the furnace is ON. Sometimes things just happen and someone flipped a switch by accident. Hate to see you pay service crew to flip a switch!  IMG_20141211_174408086
  • If you have natural gas heat, make sure the emergency gas supply switch is ON. This switch is often located in a stairwell and labeled with a red plate cover. Kids play with switches just for snorts and giggles! Mine did. So be sure to look before calling your pro.
  • If you don’t know where such gauges and switches are, be sure to ask your HVAC person to give you a walk through when he/she comes for service. It is your equipment, ASK questions.
  • Look, listen and feel before calling. Do you hear the unit firing up, can you see the pilot flames in the furnace, can you feel air blowing from vents, do you hear water hissing in radiators pipes? Give the pros as much info as you can. Some great advice from

Hanging with the service man and asking some question is always a good idea, but don’t be a pest. A good technician will explain to you the issue and what needs to be done to fix it.



Making PVC Pipe Look Like Wood

There are so many great uses for PVC pipe. Sometimes you might shy away from using it because you don’t like that plain white look you get with the pipe.


What if you could make PVC pipe look like wood? Think of how many more uses you could come up with if it blended into the surroundings. You could use this idea to make curtain rods, a tiki bar would look awesome or where ever your imagination takes you.

It takes a little extra time to accomplish, but the outcome is awesome. Just using a couple of inexpensive tools and you are on your way to creating many great projects.

Check out Jason’s step by step guide to Make PVC Look Like Wood.




Change a Light Bulb – Save Some Money

Learn how the simple task of changing your light bulbs can save you money.

Thomas Edison perfected one of the greatest inventions in history, the light bulb. And just like Edison, who continually strived to improved the light bulb, and other has been improving it ever since.

The incandescent light bulb, as great an invention as it is, consumes a lot of power and emits a lot of heat.

The incandescent bulb as we know it is no longer manufactured in the U.S. It has been replaced by a number of different types of bulbs today.


Halogen incandescents have a capsule inside that holds gas around a filament to increase bulb efficiency. They are available in a wide range of shapes and colors, and they can be used with dimmers. Halogen incandescent bulbs meet the federal minimum energy efficiency standard, but there are now many more efficient options to meet your lighting needs.


Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are simply curly versions of the long tube fluorescent lights you may already have in a kitchen or garage. Because they use less electricity than traditional incandescents, typical CFLs can pay for themselves in less than nine months, and then start saving you money each month. An ENERGY STAR-qualified CFL uses about one-fourth the energy and lasts ten times longer than a comparable traditional incandescent bulb that puts out the same amount of light. A typical CFL can pay for itself in energy savings in less than 9 months and continue to save you money each month. A CFL uses about one-third the energy of a halogen incandescent.

CFL bulbs are available in a range of light colors, including warm (white to yellow) tones that were not as available when first introduced. Some are encased in a cover to further diffuse the light and provide a similar shape to the bulbs you are replacing. If you are looking for a dimmable bulb, check the package to make sure you purchase a CFL with that feature.

Fluorescent bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, and they should always be recycled at the end of their lifespan. Many retailers recycle CFLs for free. See EPA’s website for more information.


Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are a type of solid-state lighting — semiconductors that convert electricity into light. Although once known mainly for indicator and traffic lights, LEDs in white light, general illumination applications are one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing technologies.ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs use only 20%–25% of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs they replace. LEDs use 25%–30% of the energy and last 8 to 25 times longer than halogen incandescent.

Though changing out your old light bulbs may cost a little extra up front investment, you will recoup the expense in a short amount of time and save money for years to come.

For more great energy saving tips, see our Home-Energy-Saving-Tips article

Credit: US Dept of Energy

Home Energy Saving Tips

With the price of everything rising, saving money on your home energy bill is always a nice thing.

Some little do it yourself projects, that don’t cost a lot, can save you a good hunk of change.

A look around your basement or crawl space could revel some areas where you could add some insulation or seal up some drafty holes that will help reduce your energy bill.

Adding weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows that leak air.

Where plumbing, electrical wiring and duct work comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets you will want to add some foam or caulk.

Install foam gaskets behind cover plates of your outlets and switches.

Add insulation to your water heater and the water piping going to your water heater.

These are all simple jobs you can accomplish in a few hours that will be well worth your time and a few dollars for material that will pay off for a long time to come.

Change to energy efficeint light bulbs is a great way to save money. Check out our article Change-a-light-bulb-save-some-money

On the Next Page we show you how to insulate your water heater and pipes to save on your energy bill.


Safe Way to De-Ice a Windshield

For those of us who have to leave our vehicle out in the snow and cold, whether at home or work. Getting the windshield clear before we start driving is a must but can be a big pain.

A lot of people will think, Yea just pour hot water on the windshield and it will be clear in no time, right? Wrong! Pouring hot water on an Ice Cold windshield is the worst thing you can do.

Your windshield is made of layers of different materials, that if expanded at different rates, as with pour hot water on them can cause them to crack and separate.

Check out the video for a great alternative.

Testing and Replacing a GFCI

Testing and replacing a GFCI outlet requires a few basic hand tools and an electrical tester.

On the outlet you will see 2 buttons (they can be a combination of colors and sizes) depending on the manufacturer. One will be the test button one the other is the reset button.

A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFIC) outlet is designed to stop the flow of electrical power when even the slightest issue occurs with the power leaving the device. If electric power is detected passing to ground the device with trip and stop the flow of power. It only takes milliamps to trip the circuit to prevent you from injury or death.

GFCI are required by National electrical codes to be installed all wet locations in the home. These location include bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, unfinished basements, garages and all outdoor outlets.

Testing a GFCI

These outlet should be tested monthly to be sure they are working properly. Use a plug in tester that is designed to test GFCI’s is the best way to test them. You can also plug in a light, turn it on and depress the test button on the outlet, if the light goes out and comes on when you press the reset button the device is working properly.

If the outlet does not respond properly to the test it will need to be replaced.

Head over to the Next Page for instructions on replacing a bad GFCI outlet.


Have A Better Garden Next Year Using Autumn Leaves

The autumn colors are starting to arrive, with it will come the falling leaves. Each year we struggle with raking and disposing of all those leaves. How would you like to have a better garden next year using all of those autumn leaves?

Collecting leaves each fall has become a ritual for us. It is a simple, inexpensive (actually free), and excellent way to provide valuable organic nutrients to your garden. Says Jim and Mary from Old World Garden.

Collecting fall leaves for making compost or protecting you garden soil are great ways to get rid of the leaves and get free food for your garden.

Turn Those Leaves Into Great Compost

Leaves are the perfect choice for creating a great fall compost pile! And making compost this fall means you will have plenty of “black gold” on hand for planting time next spring!

Creating A Cover Crop With Fall’s Bounty

If your garden doesn’t already have a cover crop, then create a natural one with a thick layer of leaves. Just like a planted cover crop, a thick coating can keep your garden soil from being exposed to harsh winter rains, snow and wind. Without protection, that exposure can whisk away the top layer of your valuable top soil.

Shred And Store For Next Year

We store extra leaves in our homemade corn crib bin in the garden

While you are out there collecting – be sure to get enough to use next year as well! Along with the compost bins in the back of our garden, we keep a small storage area just for shredded leaves. That way, we have plenty on hand next year to use as a mulch around young plants, or to create more compost.

Some great ideas from

So go collect some leaves and have a better garden next year.

And if you don’t have any trees on you property, You probably have neighbors who will be happen to get rid of them. You might not want to tell them your secret or they may charge you for them. 🙂


10 Awesome Uses for PVC Pipe

Sometimes, little things can make life a lot easier. Called hacks today, these little short cuts or tools can make getting things done easier. Using pcv pipe and fitting is a quick and cheap way to build gadgets that can make life go a little smoother.

Using pieces of pipe and end caps is great for hiding a spare key in the yard. Also works great to help carry firewood or groceries.

Check out the video for 10 fun uses for pvc pipe.


Hope you enjoyed these great hacks. Click here to check out 30 more great uses for PVC Pipe.