927 Lee Road 268, Valley, AL (706) 773-9274

Keeping Ducts Where they Belong

Ducts running through unconditioned attics or crawlspaces can create problems in all climates. Undesirable positive or negative pressurization, moisture and mold issues, and increased energy costs are often the result. In my work as an energy auditor, I’ve conducted blower door tests on many new homes that have duct work located outside the building envelope, many with poor test results. As a matter of fact, of all the new homes I have tested that have failed code-required blower door tests, all had ducts in unconditioned attics or crawl spaces. With so many new slab-on-grade homes being built today, lots of…

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How to Cut Stone with Hand Tools

Project details Skill 3 out of 5 Moderate Cost $10 and up Estimated Time N/A 1. Mark first demonstrated how to cut stone using a feather and wedge system:a. Start by drilling holes in the stone along the line you want to cut.b. Place the feathers on the outside of the hole and the wedge in between them.c. Gently tap on the wedges using a hammer. Listen carefully and pay close attention to the vibrations in the hammer to ensure the rock is splitting slowly and carefully. This step should take some time.d. Keep tapping on the wedges as needed…

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Give Back During the COVID-19 Crisis

This is initiative is part of This Old House: Live—daily programing and opportunities to connect with our experts during these challenging times. Health care workers around the country are facing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) including N95 masks, safety goggles, face shields, and nitrile gloves—items that are common among construction sites as well as home workshops. If you have spare, unused masks, respirator cartridges, nitrile gloves, safety goggles or face shields, please donate them. Unless you live in a major city, figuring out how and where to donate unused PPE can be tricky. Most hospitals and doctor’s offices don’t…

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Flotsam + Fork: A Couple-Owned Housewares Shop in Minneapolis

One of our go-to online home goods and kitchenware shops, Flotsam + Fork, opened a brick-and-mortar location in Minneapolis not long ago. Most brands they carry are sourced from Europe from heritage companies like Robert Herder in Germany, Manufacture de Digoin and Opinel from France, as well as linens from Austrian, French, and German makers. N.B.: The couple posted this on Instagram: “In response to the evolving global health crisis, and out of an abundance of caution, our physical location in Minneapolis is temporarily closed until further notice—but our online shop remains open.” Here’s a look: Above: Owners Joe Hasler…

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‘Detailed Minimalism’: A Designer’s Bucolic Cottage in the Welsh Countryside

We recently came across Justine Cook’s lovely, centuries-old cottage in the Welsh countryside. Its snug dimensions, spare interiors, and soothing palette are just what we need right now to calm our pandemic-heightened nerves. Justine, an artist and interior design consultant, and her husband, a landscape and history writer, bought the bucolic property in 2009. “We loved the setting and the fact that we could watch the cloud shadows move across the valley below,” she says. Unlike most home renovators, they were determined to change as little as possible. “We left everything we could that was original. And walls that needed…

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The Best Way to Insulate an Existing Concrete-Block Wall

Question: I have a 1950s brick Colonial with uninsulated concrete-block walls. Inside, the drywall is nailed to studs fastened flat against the block. How do I insulate walls with stud bays only 1½ inches thick?—David Caruso, Springfield, Pa. Answer: You can’t. And there is no effective way to fill the voids in an existing concrete-block wall. Your only option is to cover the inside of the exterior walls with a continuous layer of insulation, as though you were insulating a basement wall. In fact, this would be a perfect application for InSoFast foam panels, which I installed in the basement…

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