April 10, 2022 AsktheBuilder Newsletter
Issue #1177 (I think...)
Are you a new subscriber? Welcome! I'm composing this issue using my new Mac Mini computer and my new mind-blowing ultra-wide LG monitor. Go here to see a picture of the monitor as well as a link to the specs of this ultra-wide monitor. Holy Cow! Talk about easy on the eyes. I feel like it's June, 1967, and I'm riding the #31 bus west on McMillan Street!
These two new pieces of hardware replaced my ancient 13-year-old iMac. I'm blown away by the lightning-FAST speed of this new computer. The Mac Mini is just a 1.5-inch thick by 7.5 x 7.5 inch square box!
Speaking of eye candy, Mother Nature didn't disappoint this past week. Look at these dramatic photos of the official Loch Winnisquam Ice Out event. You'll also see the last little pile of snow here at my home.
If you've been a subscriber since the days of yore, when I still sported a fair amount of dishwater-blonde hair, you might recall this funny video.
A person left a comment about it three days ago that inspired me to re-shoot the video. Let's see if you can figure out what his comment might have been. It put a smile on my face.
Watch the short video and maybe you'll understand why I'm about to do all the work required to create a new video with a slightly different ending!
Build a Brick Patio - Easy
I'm just like you. I don't wear my underpants (small clothes) on the outside of my pants for goodness sake and neither do you. I'm not a superhero.
I continue to make mistakes and very early in my building career I was a hot mess. Read my most recent column where I share one of my major malfunctions.
Go here and you'll also discover my nefarious plan to win my wife's hand in marriage fifty years ago! It worked!
You're also going to discover what you need to know to build a stunning natural clay brick patio that will NOT FADE. Forget about using those crappy colorized precast concrete brick you see at the big box stores for goodness sake! At the top of the column, I've got a stunning before/after photo of those POC concrete bricks.
If you just want to cut to the chase and desire my time-tested method to install a clay paving brick patio, sidewalk, or driveway, go here. You'll be getting secret formulas, photos, illustrations, links to amazing videos, links to the BEST tools to use, and countless tips.
Sky-High Water Bill
Last week, I think I broke a record. I lost count of the number of homeowners I talked to on the phone or via a video call. Three days ago, I completed one of these affordable consult calls with a man that was in shock over his latest water bill.
The homeowner wanted to know if I could determine if he had a leak in the water line leading to his home. His water bill showed he had used, on average, 45,000 gallons of water each of the previous three months.
I could understand using a large amount of water if it was a family of six with teenage boys taking showers until the hot water runs out! In this case, it was just the husband and wife.
It's important to realize I've been a master plumber since 1981 and my first questions were, "Where is your water meter? Is it inside your basement or outside in a frost-proof pit?"
"It's inside the basement, Tim."
Within minutes, I had narrowed the issue to his humidifier that was directly connected to his furnace and was running 24/7 all through the winter.
"Is it possible for that small 1/4-inch diameter pipe to use that much water," he asked.
Before he asked this, I did a fast calculation based on what water he told me they used each day. I came up with a rough guesstimate of 200 gallons per day. That's only 6,000 gallons a month.
But then his wife spoke up in the background stating she did a load of laundry each day. Hmmmmm???!!!
After hearing that I said, Here's what I want you to do. Adjust your kitchen faucet to where a small stream of water, 1/8-inch in diameter, comes from the fixture. Time how long it takes to fill an 8-ounce measuring cup.
I already knew the answer but wanted him to go through the experience. You might want to do it too to get your head around how much water you might be WASTING.
Realize the valve on his humidifier was probably creating a stream at least 4X, and maybe as much as 8X, what you see in the photo just above.
I did a poll during my most recent LIVE video stream. Fifty percent of those responding were really curious and wanted to know how much water flows from all their faucets and hoses.
They wanted to double check to see if their water meters are calibrated correctly and registering the real amount of water that's being used!
Do you want to check your water usage to determine if your water bill is correct? If so, watch for next Sunday's newsletter.
New Flushable Wipes
I've been testing some new flushable wipes the past month. A diligent PR woman named Megan reached out to me and sent a sample pack. I made her aware right out of the gate I've been a master plumber since 1981.
I immediately mentioned to her that I had recorded an in-depth video showing the condition of some flushable wipes, and army men too, when they are flushed and then transit 70 feet of residential drain pipe.
The claim of this wipes manufacturer was that this new wipe breaks down 5X faster than the leading brand of toilet paper. Megan actually sent me a roll of this common paper along with a glossy placard showing how to TEST the wipe against the toilet paper.
I immediately reached out to her saying, "Megan, the testing method on the placard you are asking people to do is NOT REALISTIC. That's not what happens in a toilet and what happens as the wipe transits to the sewer/septic tank."
She didn't dispute this and readily admitted she and her PR peers know very little about the workings of toilets and pipes.
Fast forward a few weeks and she reached out to see how the testing was going. I responded, "I see on the label, in very small print, it says these are safe to use in septic systems. Can you forward to me the test data, test method, and any photos/videos supporting this claim?"
The two photos above show this claim on the label in very tiny print - about the size of small print on a business card. The Common Man plastic card in the upper right corner is for scale. It's the size of a standard credit card you carry.
The bottom line is the manufacturer couldn't provide to me any actual test data showing what happens to their wipe once it arrives and sits inside a septic tank.
I did agree with Megan that the wipe would fall apart quite readily as it traveled for thousands of feet in a sewer pipe because of the turbidity in the moving water.
You don't have turbidity in a septic tank. Once the wipe gets to the tank, the water doesn't move. I put one of the wipes in a clear bowl and let it sit for a week.
It didn't take long for the wipe to settle to the bottom of the bowl. I had to end the test when Kathy made me get rid of it because she saw one of our cats drinking from the bowl. Here's what the wipe will look like in the bottom of your septic tank.
Why is all this important?
Here are a few reasons:
- STOP automatically trusting information you get from people
- Engage your God-given critical-thinking skills and question things
- Do your own testing - often it's easy
On a personal level, I find it astonishing the attorneys representing this flushable wipes company - which I REFUSE to name - would allow the product to be labeled as it is.
Well, they could be so-so attorneys. There are far more so-so attorneys out there than the cream of the crop.
As you undoubtedly know, only a small percentage of things, people, information, websites, etc. out there are really really stellar.
I'm pretty sure you and I can agree on that.
I'll be back next week trying to save you money and time.
Do It Right, Not Over!
P.S. Did you fail to watch the four-minute video of the best movie open you might have ever seen? Who knows, MAYBE you've never seen this movie!!!