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Old 04-08-12, 06:05 AM   #1
Closed Office
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Sneaky tradesman solutions

I was sharing a house with a few other people and the exhaust fan over the kitchen stove got a lot of use. I didn't use it myself. Just opening the window cleared out the smoke, flames or whatever faster.

I couldn't see an exhaust vent on the outside wall of the house near the stove, so I asked the landlord out of curiosity where the exhaust went. He said it went up the internal wall to the attic, then across to the soffit at the bottom of the roof and vented there.

I checked the attic and it did not. There was no duct for it at all.

The fan just blew the bacon grease into the wall. There was no exit for it.

Whoever installed the range hood had skipped the hard work part. It would have been difficult to run the duct through the wall into the attic. It had been done years before and the landlord had never noticed, but it wasn't pleasant for him to find out.

So basically the fan was doing more harm than good. The wall was probably loaded with moisture and mold.

Have you ever been affected by this sort of 'workmanship'?
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Old 04-08-12, 06:44 AM   #2
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The mantle over the fireplace at my house was held in place with about 2 dozen tiny finishing nails and nothing else. I found out when I decided that I'd have the workers putting in the new tile around the fireplace take it down to be replaced with something more fitting to the new look. I figured there'd be a 2x4 with big solid bolts into studs. Nope. Finishing nails, and a little bit of caulk around the edge. Don't want to imagine what would happen if kid were to have tried to hang from it.
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Old 04-08-12, 07:41 AM   #3
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Have you ever been affected by this sort of 'workmanship'?
Yes, my entire house, but it was built by the original owner, definitely not a tradesman.

I could go into decades of things I've seen and fixed because I'm the guy they call in to solve all the problems. What I will offer is this advice:

Do not hire the contractor with the lowest bid. Either that's all they're worth or they're underbidding with the plan to charge you for extras. Instead, hire based upon reputation. Most home projects that require a contractor are also expensive enough it's not worth the risk of shoddy craftsmanship or having them bail out on you before the job is complete. Ask your friends who does the best work in town, who completes jobs in a timely fashion, then take your bids from that list. Believe it or not, some of the best contractors out there also have the integrity to charge fairly so that they get repeat business. They may also value their reputation and will complete their work correctly and quickly to avoid callbacks and bad word of mouth. If an issue arises, you want the guy that will back up his work and make it right.

Also, most range hoods are set up to either externally vent or recirculate through a filter. Both are legal, though I will agree with you that the external venting is the better choice. If it is recirculating it should have a pair of metal filters filled with activated charcoal, though some older ones are a mere baffle to catch the grease.
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Old 04-08-12, 08:01 AM   #4
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I am the guy that did the work on most of those I suspect.
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Old 04-08-12, 08:06 AM   #5
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My first house had new drywall on the firewalls that looked slightly wavey, I always hated it so one day I decide to pull down a sheet and take a look, apparently the last owner thought it would be a great idea to put up drywall directly on a perfectly good brickwall! No framing at all! Concrete nails right into the brick! I bought a new sheet and some concrete nails and slapped it on fearing the work that would be involved to remedy the problem.
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Old 04-08-12, 08:21 AM   #6
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I am the guy that did the work on most of those I suspect.
Thanks for the job security.
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Old 04-08-12, 08:32 AM   #7
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Not tradesman but previous owner...

I decided the pink, white and gold French Provincial pansy-assed bathroom was just too much, so I gutted it. When I removed the mirror, I saw the overhead light was wired, behind the mirror with an extension cord. He had cut the cord in half, wired one end to the electric source, wired the other half to the light and plugged the two remaining ends together to make a circuit.

I was astounded.
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Old 04-08-12, 08:37 AM   #8
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My last landlord fancied himself a handiman. I learned a lot undoing his mistakes. The classic one was that one of our toilets didn't really flush with much force. I forget why I had to take the tank off at one point, but when I did, I found an inch long segment of PVC pipe just lying in the intake to the bowl. After removing that obstacle, the toilet worked much better.
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Old 04-08-12, 08:46 AM   #9
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Our clothes dryer vents into the attic of the house. Landlord says not to worry about it. So I don't. It keeps the garage nice and warm in the winter.
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Old 04-08-12, 09:24 AM   #10
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Moved into our current house to discover that during heavy rain, water would drip in through a couple windows. Turns out that if you don't caulk them after installation, they'll leak.
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Old 04-08-12, 09:45 AM   #11
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Moved into our current house to discover that during heavy rain, water would drip in through a couple windows. Turns out that if you don't caulk them after installation, they'll leak.
Caulking is just a stopgap. Sounds to me they weren't papered/flashed/caulked correctly when originally installed. For our harsh CO Winters we shingle the windows with ice and water shield membrane before siding and trim.
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Old 04-08-12, 11:58 AM   #12
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A previous owner of my house didn't hire qualified tradesmen, she had friends do the work for her. After I bought the house and started the remodel, my contractor started a game of "code/installation violation of the week". Some of the things he found:

- The wood floors were not installed with glue, they used concrete adhesive. In order to remove the planks, the demolition guys had to burn them with a propane torch and then scrape them off the cement.

- The floor-to-ceiling mirrors in the front hallway were not installed with silicone, they used some other kind of adhesive that destroyed the drywall when the mirrors were removed.

- I have some light switches with no wiring behind them, and others with wiring but no power.

- There was a 50 amp service for a backyard jacuzzi. The jacuzzi had been removed and I wanted to use the wiring for a spa tub in the second bath. I was with the electrician when he opened the service panel and said "Oh, my God!" The neutral was not grounded at the box, it was connected to the metal conduit that ran along the outside of the house and powered all of the outdoor lights as well as the previously installed jacuzzi. The electrician asked me if anyone had ever touched the outside conduit, then he added that if they had, I would have certainly heard about it.
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Old 04-08-12, 12:28 PM   #13
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Not tradesman but previous owner...

I decided the pink, white and gold French Provincial pansy-assed bathroom was just too much, so I gutted it. When I removed the mirror, I saw the overhead light was wired, behind the mirror with an extension cord. He had cut the cord in half, wired one end to the electric source, wired the other half to the light and plugged the two remaining ends together to make a circuit.

I was astounded.
Not my place but a friend bought a house where the previous owner used his training as an accountant to connect several cheap extension cords spliced together like that after running them through the walls. The same owner found the studs to mount the tv on the wall by drilling a series of holes in the wall until he found the stud.
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Old 04-08-12, 02:38 PM   #14
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My last landlord fancied himself a handiman. I learned a lot undoing his mistakes. The classic one was that one of our toilets didn't really flush with much force. I forget why I had to take the tank off at one point, but when I did, I found an inch long segment of PVC pipe just lying in the intake to the bowl. After removing that obstacle, the toilet worked much better.
The "inch long segment of pvc" was the cut off from the overflow tube (flush valve) that had been replaced at one time. Flush valves come one length and need to be cut so the "overflow" level is below the toilet flush lever. Keeps water from running out hole in china for handle in case ballcock does not cycle off. My guess is he forgot to cut the overflow until after he had tank reinstalled on bowl and cut it with something. The flapper possibly was not installed at this point and the "inch long pvc" fell down into the bowl. Rather than remove the tank to remove this cut off piece, it was left in place causing sluggish the action for bowl to outflow. Not so much stupidity in this case but just laziness.
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Old 04-08-12, 11:17 PM   #15
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The same owner found the studs to mount the tv on the wall by drilling a series of holes in the wall until he found the stud.
I'll confess. I did this once when I realized that a) stud finders are not scientific instruments and b) mobile homes have narrower studs. Took me a few tries to get a wall shelf in.

*glares up at wall shelf*
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Old 04-08-12, 11:46 PM   #16
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I am the guy that did the work on most of those I suspect.
That could be quite an interesting topic. The shortcuts that worked, the ones that didn't and the owner noticed. It would have my attention.

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When I removed the mirror, I saw the overhead light was wired, behind the mirror with an extension cord. He had cut the cord in half, wired one end to the electric source, wired the other half to the light and plugged the two remaining ends together to make a circuit.
What an interesting idea, and it does have some merit. If he wants to replace the light he just wires the plug end to the new light, then plugs it in. As long as the connections are done well, it might not even burn the place down.

At least in Calgary, it seems that if you're a guy, you're an electrician. It's just that some of us aren't licensed.

This whole topic reminded me of a site called Home Inspection Nightmares. Somehow someone got into my kitchen and snapped this photo of it.

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/phot...443105,00.html

There are a lot of pages of photos taken by home inspectors. It was a few years ago now and I had forgotten about it, but I spent a couple of hours going through most of them on the site. Most of the ideas were trashy but some actually had something good about them.

I expect some of you might enjoy them too.
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Old 04-09-12, 01:24 AM   #17
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Our clothes dryer vents into the attic of the house. Landlord says not to worry about it. So I don't. It keeps the garage nice and warm in the winter.
I hope you have good renters insurance to cover you in case of a fire because I think your rental is ready anytime to have one. NO JINX intended. I'd stick my head up into the attic to see how much lint is up there.
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Old 04-09-12, 07:57 AM   #18
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I hope you have good renters insurance to cover you in case of a fire because I think your rental is ready anytime to have one. NO JINX intended. I'd stick my head up into the attic to see how much lint is up there.
That's not lint, thats insulation.
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Old 04-09-12, 09:28 AM   #19
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This isn't so much workmanship as it is design. My house is roughly L-shaped. It has a hip roof except for a couple gables in the front for character, and a gable on the back to make the vaulted family room ceiling. That gable, along with the two other faces of the roof in the back, funnel about half the water hitting my roof into a single point. Just over my back door. Duh. I will look at roof lines at any house I buy in the future.
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Old 04-09-12, 09:56 AM   #20
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That's not lint, thats insulation.
I'll agree that there might be some insulating factor to a build up of lint but just for a educational experience , take some lint to a non-flammable location, perferably well away from your house, and strike a match. Do not be holding the lint while you're doing this. Please post the results.
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Old 04-09-12, 10:06 AM   #21
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It wasn't really a shortcut taken by a contractor, but a error in installation. I was doing a punch list (a final-ish inspection) of a renovation for which we'd done the design. I walked in the bathroom and decided to see if the sink was loose. I put my hand on it and pushed down a bit and nearly ripped the sink out of the wall.

Moral of the story: Shake your sinks.
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Old 04-09-12, 10:09 AM   #22
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I had a friend who would use speaker wire for extension cords. He died young from something else.
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Old 04-09-12, 01:18 PM   #23
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I hope you have good renters insurance to cover you in case of a fire because I think your rental is ready anytime to have one. NO JINX intended. I'd stick my head up into the attic to see how much lint is up there.
This. Neither the lint nor the moisture is good for the attic.
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Old 04-09-12, 01:52 PM   #24
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Mine is not the tradesmen as much as design.

There was no sanitary cleanout tap for the main sewer line. It would have cost all of $20 to put in when the house was built. Wait about 20 years and once the lines get old and the bushes/trees grow and it means an annual expense of over $100 since you need to go in through the roof vent.

Luckily I was able to get that fixed for not too much, only a few times what it would ahve cost when building.

Also got teh main lines redone coming in, so inside and outside water have their own shutoffs. Would have cost all of $5 when building the house.

All the houses in the neighborhood have the same issues. I know becaseu one of my neighbors made hte same changes to his house before we moved in.
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Old 04-09-12, 02:31 PM   #25
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I'll agree that there might be some insulating factor to a build up of lint but just for a educational experience , take some lint to a non-flammable location, perferably well away from your house, and strike a match. Do not be holding the lint while you're doing this. Please post the results.
My typo. I forgot the

You didn't really take me seriously did you?
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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