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

FAQ: Air Conditioning and High Humidity

Our central air conditioning system has no trouble keeping the indoor temperature just where the thermostat is set. But the humidity indoors still seems way too high. It feels clammy and uncomfortable. Why? An air conditioner both cools the air and makes it drier. Indoor air feels comfortable to most people when both the temperature and the relative humidity are in a certain range. Comfort is a relative term but for argument’s sake, suppose that in summer the goal is 74°F with a relative humidity of about 50%. When an air conditioner can keep up with temperature demands (what engineers…

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All Things Should Have Stories: A Richly Hued London Flat (With an Ikea Kitchen Too)

For some reason this week I’ve had the beginning of that Wallace Stevens poem in my head: “One must have a mind of winter…” But it’s a sense of autumn that seems to fill a first-level flat in London that Julie sent to me recently. That and some Portuguese influence. The flat is the vision—and home—of architects Lionel Real de Azúa (one third of Red Deer) and Sophie Rose (founder of Studio Thorn). “So we were the joint clients and designer/architects,” Lionel wrote to me by email. “The flat is in an ex-local authority pre-war housing block. It was previously owned…

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How to Pick the Perfect Christmas Tree

Picking the Perfect Tree Christmas comes but once a year, and picking out the perfect tree to jolly up the living room is a family ritual full of fun and promise. But with all the different types of trees out there, it's hard to know which one is right for your holiday display. And knowing how to keep it green and fragrant once you deck it out is a talent that eludes many a yuletide reveler. "When a tree goes south," says This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook, "ninety-nine percent of the time it's human error." So before you…

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Designing Return Filter Grille Boxes

I hate it when I don’t see ahead of time what seems obvious afterward. I’ve assembled a lot of things in my life, including a house and I can’t tell you how many times I get to the end, and then have to undo everything because I put a piece in backward or skipped a step. Like that time I got halfway through installing the second-floor back wall of the house I built before I noticed the window openings were in the wrong place because I started with the structural insulated panels (SIPs) upside down. Today’s story is something like…

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Water Heater Maintenance Tips

Project details Skill 1 out of 5 Easy Tanks that haven’t been maintained might require a bit more time to flush Cost About $42 for reflective insulation, about $22 for an anode rod Estimated Time 1–2 hours Q: Replacing my older water heater isn't in the budget right now. What can be done to make it run efficiently? —David Tichy, Fairfield, Conn. Lance Marques, HVAC contractor, Swezey Fuel Co., replies: There are several easy and inexpensive ways to increase a water heater's operating efficiency and longevity. Some things—adding insulation and setting the temperature—have to be done only once. Others, such…

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Trade Contractors: Trust but Verify

During my time as a contractor, I learned that it was important to double-check trade contractors’ work, and to learn as much as possible about their products and installation methods to ensure the quality of their work. We can’t all know every detail of each trade’s work, but it is important to understand enough to make sure things are done right. Whenever a problem arose, it led to an analysis, a (hopefully) straightforward solution, and information that could be used to avoid the problem on future projects. Sometimes it was a product issue but more often than not, it was…

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