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Mr. Fix-It Paul MacGregor


Seamless gutters prevent leaks

Question: I would appreciate your suggestions on two challenges I face. I want to add rain gutters to my garage and a new shed. However, my past experience has been that there is almost always leakage at the joints. Is there a way of overcoming that problem, or should such work be left to professionals?

I have casement windows on my house. As you probably know, the lower sill houses the operating mechanism and provides access for the entry and escape of air during winter months. Is there a way of correcting this deficiency? Iíve tried stuffing insulation into the cavity, but that, obviously, interferes with the operating arm.

Answer: Seamless rain gutters installed by a professional wonít leak. Seamless companies form the gutters on site so they fit correctly and have no seams or joints. Reputable companies offer warranties on their work. Keep all gutters clean and free of leaves and debris since that can clog the downspouts and cause the gutters to overflow. I had my seamless gutters installed about 10 years ago and have had no problems. I clean them out two or three times a year.

My experience and the opinion of other experts is that the best solution is to replace the casement windows with new vinyl windows. Older style casements are notorious energy wasters.

New windows will pay back your costs in a few years and thatís not considering the comfort factor. One window company said for the time being you can install inside storm windows or use a 3M-style plastic cover, the kind you shrink with a hair dryer. Pull the crank off the windows before the installation since itís unlikely you will be opening the windows during the winter months.

Question: The copper tubing going into my water tank on the cold side is hot to the touch. What is the problem?

Answer: Itís simply heat transfer from the hot water tank to the cold water inlet tube. Since the tank is hot, the pipe coming into the tank gets hot. It happens on most water tanks. Itís no problem except for a little heat loss. You can put some foam wrap over that section of the pipe to eliminate that loss if you want to, but the loss is minimal.

Question: Iím going on an extended vacation of about 6 weeks. Iíve been told it is a good idea to shut off the main water valve to prevent potential flooding. Do you agree?

Answer: Itís a good idea provided you take some additional steps.

Make sure your hot water tank has been turned off or set on the pilot or vacation setting. Disconnect all hoses from outside faucets and pour a tablespoon of cooking oil in all drains, including floor drains. That will slow down the evaporation of water that is in the trap to stop sewer cases from coming back into the house.

Question: I am wiring a new home that is under construction. I need to know what size wiring to run for the dryer, range, water heater and a heat pump.

Answer: Hereís what master electrician Paul Miller said about your question.

ďTypically the dryer, water heater and heat pump will be 30 amps at 220 volts each.

ďThe dryer will need a four-wire No. 10 copper wire (two hots, one neutral and one ground). The water heater should be run with a number 10/2 with ground. (Note that the white wire will be used as a hot leg). The heat pump should be the same as the water heater, however I suggest you check the manufacturerís specifications. The range, which is typically 50 amps, can be run in a number 6 SER, four-wire cable that is aluminum or a number 8 four-wire copper cable.

ďMany communities require that homeowners pull a homeownerís permit and demonstrate knowledge of basic electrical skills, as well as knowledge of building codes before they do electrical wiring. Even if your community doesnít have that requirement, I recommend that you have an electrician double-check your work to make sure that it is done properly.Ē

Mr. Fix-It can now be heard Saturdays from 8 to 10 a.m. on 16Kicks (KCKK 1600) and AM 1570 in Loveland and Fort Collins. E-mail questions to Paul MacGregor at

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