Mudspike Home Improvement Thread

Thinking that we can share info and tips for home projects. There are a lot of house improvements that I can share advice on - whole house fan, central duct humidifier, dog and cat doors, electrical wiring and minor plumbing. Roof de-icing cable, hot tubs and controls, led lighting including under-cabinet led strips, dimmers… deck and stain, gutters and drainage, sprinkler system; all these improvements we did to this home over the decade.

De-icing cable -

Humidifier -

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I do need advice on a garage floor sealant. We had a new floor poured about a month ago. I would like to put something clear on it, and it has to provide traction to avoid slipping on the wet snow drippings. Any recommendations?

I will finally like my garage!

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I don’t have any suggestions about sealants but I wanted to say, NICE floor!


The seal we went with is Glaze 'n Seal, “The Wet One”. The two packs on top of the 5 gallon barrels are iron oxide for traction to use inside of the garage.

We bought it through the concrete contractor’s supplier for about 25% of retail value. Will apply over the next few weeks.

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The big home improvement stores offer a veterans discount - show an ID for a 10% discount on most items, up to $500/y -

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I didn’t know there was a cap on that… when we bought cabinets and used the discount, I’m pretty sure it was over $500.

I can offer advice on plumbing and residential electrical work if anyone needs it. Now my knowledge of code is a bit out of date, but unless it’s a major item it’s probably not too much of a major issue. Also residential carpentry, like building a deck etc.

I’ve been told by 4 different contractors that I need to replace my two 17 year old 40 gallon Rheem hot water heaters. They look and work like new, but I thinking that 17 years on 12 year water heater is probably a good return on our investment.

My HVAC quoted me $1800 a piece installed, which sounds like too much. Where else should I look, given that I don’t want to do the job myself? I have Lowe’s and Home Depot nearby. I don’t mind pouring concrete and driving nails, I just don’t want to mess with gas and plumbing.


Water heaters are easy to install, especially with the advent of sharkbite pipe fittings.

Turn the water off
Turn gas line off if it’s gas
Disconnect gas line
Hack saw the water inlet and outlet pipes.
Disconnect or hacksaw the pressure relief valve pipe.
Remove water heater.
Install new sharkbite water heater shut off valve inlet pipe/outlet pipes (they come in a water heater two pack)
Install NEW gas flex line.
Connect pressure relief pipe.

Depending on where you live, you may be required to pull a permit and have the install inspected. The “code” changes all the time on water heaters so it’s likely the install you have from 17 years ago is no longer kosher. This is usually were the additional cost comes in when hiring a plumber.

It’s your house and you know your mechanical ability, but water heaters are very easy to install. I would literally come do it for a case of beer.


Also keep in mind those water heaters run about $500 dollars, so that’s basically $1300 in labor each.

I’m not a plumber, it just seems every time I buy a house the water heater goes out.

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I like Sharkbite fittings! I would only use them where they can be seen - I would not put them behind a wall. They have been around for some 15 years and have a reliable reputation. They can be installed on wet pipes, and are removable. But, instead of using a hacksaw, a little pipe cutter with a good blade leaves a fairly clean cut - there shouldn’t be any burrs.

This Sharkbite fitting replaced a leaking saddle valve. I was stressing about how to solder in a new piece of copper in this tight space. A friend told me about the Sharkbite solution and I was sold.

Here is another Sharkbite fitting that is like a saddle valve. This is the 1/4" supply to the humidifier. I will never use an old-style piercing saddle valve again.

A plumber installed this ^^^ water heater, because we were replacing an electric one with a gas heater. I did a gas water heater replacement in another house - not bad to do. Something I learned is that the copper piping in and out of the water heater should have dielectric (?) fittings to prevent an electrical current from running through the connections. Otherwise the connections will corrode and fail. See the silver fittings on the top of the heater ^^^.


Yes, you are correct. Most of the install kits come with the two nipples.

Good points. I wouldn’t use them behind walls either, just don’t trust them. If it looks I might torch the house sweating a pipe, I use a flame blanket if I can, or I just remove the drywall from the area in question. Cheaper and easier to patch drywall then burn down the house. :slight_smile: supposedly you can use sharkbite reliably anywhere, I just don’t trust it.

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Sharkbite fittings work on copper and PEX plastic. For copper, the inner Sharkbite white plastic reinforcing tubes can be removed by pulling them out with pliers, but those inner tubes must be left in for PEX to to keep the plastic pipe from collapsing.

The gas fireplace stopped working. $120 for a new thermocouple (in the back) and thermopile (cylinder on the left) fixed it. Sealed the holes underneath with heat-resistant silicon - that’s the red stuff in the pic. A service guy wanted $95 just to look at it.

The fire would go out after 10 minutes and the pilot took longer to light. It was prolly just the thermocouple that controls the pilot, but I replaced both pieces. I tried cleaning both off first. They were about 6 years old.

These are the old parts.


Nicely done.
I’ve found that thanks to internet DIY (and a healthy amount of brain) lots of money can be saved in normal house maintenance.

If you have thee make and model of just about anything it seems that someone has posted a repair video on it. I have had to repair our stove three times and YouTube videos have been a life saver. The most recent fix was the oven igniter.


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It’s amazing to see what you’re allowed to do from a gas perspective in other countries.

In the UK if it’s connected to the supply, legally you can’t touch it if you are not qualified.

You can install a boiler, but the final connection to the explodey stuff has to be done by a registered gas (Gas Safe) technician.

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Which makes sense from an accountability point of view. Gas installations, especially in multi apartment buildings, endanger the lives of lots of people if not maintained properly. The complexity of a stove is mostly manageable, but boilers can be darn complicated.

The stove has a gas shutoff valve in the house. Without it you would need to turn off the service outside which once that is done requires the gas company to make a service call to turn it back on.


The water heater drain valve started to drip. Emptied the tank and tried to unscrew the plastic drain fitting but it would not budge. The 15/16" open end wrench did not quite snug to the square sides of the fitting and it was slipping on the plastic. I did not want to break off the fitting, so went to the hardware store and bought a 50 cent washer. I was concerned about breaking off the plastic and having to replace the whole water heater. I filled it up, but it still leaked, telling me there was a hairline fracture in the fitting. It was a Class 1 drip every few seconds.

I looked up fixing this and if the plastic fitting gets broken I could hack-saw out the fitting and smooth any damaged threads on the water heater. Or better IMO, heat red hot a blade to melt out the plastic fitting. Next day I drained the water heater again. I almost broke off the plastic fitting with the wrench and another adjustable wrench and extension. Finally I got a BFW that is 16" long with big teeth and grabbed the fitting and it came right off.

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