Q: We just bought a house with a 20-year-old septic system. It’s a basic gravity system with a leach field. We had the system inspected before buying and they told us that everything "looked good." The sellers did not keep records, but said they had the tank pumped “a few times”. How many years can we expect to get out this system before it needs to be repaired or replaced? … [Read more...] about How Long Can Septic System Last?
Q: I am planning to make a chimney top with aluminum covered by copper. Does there need to be any type of barrier between the two because of heat, ash, or wood smoke? What material do you recommend? – Pat A: For the longest lasting chimney cap, the recommended materials are stainless steel or copper. Caps made with these usually come with a lifetime warranty. Galvanized … [Read more...] about Best Material For Chimney Caps?
Q: My wife and I gave earnest money for a piece of land to build our dream home. Before we paid the full amount, the seller contacted us to say the drainage plan failed on the land and had to be re-engineered. NOW the land has a drainage pond in it, which my wife and I don't want as it is too much upkeep etc. I asked the seller to refund our earnest money and he said NO. What … [Read more...] about How Do I Get Earnest Money Refunded?
Q: Can you tell me the best way to find a professional to do a perc test? Who is allowed to perform the test? — R. M. A: Before proceeding, check with your local jurisdiction (city/town/county) about the requirements for performing a perc test in your area: Who can perform the test? What time of year is testing allowed? How many test holes are required? … [Read more...] about Who Should I Hire For Perc Test?
Q: Magnesium-oxide board (Google ExtremeGreen) seems to be a ideal building material, but Wikipedia and other sources say it has a problem of attracting condensation due to its salt content. Can you offer any advice? -- Keith B. A: Magnesium-oxide building products – sheathing, wallboard, siding, and other products such as SIPs– are very new in the U.S. so there is very … [Read more...] about Magnesium-Oxide Wallboard & Sheathing
Q: Why is the cold water inlet pipe on my water heater hot up to five feet away? Thanks in advance! -- Jan O. A: It is normal for the incoming cold water pipe to get a little warm due to convection – that is, hot water rising in the tank. Also copper piping is a good conductor of heat. Many modern water heaters have built-in heat traps to limit the migration of hot … [Read more...] about Why Is Water Heater Supply Line Hot?
Q: We are building a new home – a contemporary Cape – and are trying to decide between casement and double-hung windows. We like the look of casements, but have heard that they can be trouble. We are also trying to decide between vinyl-clad and solid-vinyl windows. Any suggestions would be appreciated. – Tom C. A: There are definitely pros and cons to each type of … [Read more...] about Casement Vs. Double-Hung Windows
Q: What is the best option for replacing a low-slope roof over an addition? We have a low-slope shed roof that was repaired with roll roofing as an emergency patch in 2014. We had ice damage which forced the roof repair, but because it was in the winter, only the lower half of the 23×12' area was repaired. The top half of the addition roof has asphalt shingles where it … [Read more...] about Best Option for Low-Slope Roofing