Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Ask the Experts: Light Bulbs & Dimmers

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

Robin Renner, Construction Director, answers questions about DIY home repairs.

Are there LED light bulbs that work with dimmers?

Q: My original bathroom fixture uses standard incandescent bulbs. A few months ago, I had an electrician rewire the switch plate with a dimmer switch. The dimmer switch seems to work with regular incandescent light bulbs but not LED light bulbs. For environmental reasons, would it be better to change back to a regular non-dimmer switch with LED light bulbs or keep the dimmer switch and use incandescent bulbs? Are there LED light bulbs that work with dimmers?

A: The short answer is that there is an incompatibility with the bulb and dimmer switch. Not all LED bulbs are dimmable. Make sure you are using an LED that specifically says that it is dimmable. The packaging should say “for use with light dimmers,” like this one.

Also, not all dimmer switches will work with LED since they take a lower wattage. It’s also possible (but not as likely) your electrician didn’t install the correct dimmer switch. Check with your electrician to see if the correct one was installed. Most new ones are rated for LEDs, but maybe he had an old dimmer switch, or you supplied one that wasn’t rated correctly for LEDs. It’s possible, if you take the cover plate off so you can see the switch, that you may be able to tell if the switch is rated for dimmers, but not all are marked. Check out this example of a dimmer rated for LEDs.

Keep It Ventilated

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

by Matthew Flyer, Construction Manager & Robin Renner, Construction Director

Why ventilate?

Does your home smell stale? Is moisture a problem? Can’t get rid of odors? You need to ventilate your home. Ventilation means getting fresh air into your home or exchanging stale air for fresh air. A closed or sealed house keeps stale trapped moisture, smoke, cooking odors, and indoor pollutants in the rooms where you live. This can cause health problems and make asthma and lung problems worse.

Houses 100 years ago were leaky. Usually, they didn’t have insulation in the walls, so fresh air could pretty easily enter through all the gaps, cracks, and holes in the building. Also, the building materials used 100 years ago were mostly natural products. They didn’t release chemicals (called off-gassing) like formaldehyde, flame retardants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other chemicals that are so common today’s building materials and furnishings.

Proper ventilation helps keep a home energy-efficient, safe, and, most importantly, healthy.

Here are some inexpensive tips that can help you keep your home properly ventilated.

1. Open Doors and Windows

Simply opening doors and windows a few times during the day to “air out” your house, quickly replaces stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air, getting rid of pollutants, allergens, and extra moisture. If weather permits, leaving windows slightly open overnight can improve the air quality inside your room.

2. Vent Outside/Dry Clothes Outside

If you have a dryer, make sure it vents outside and keep the lint filter and vent clean. Check your lint filter each time you use the dryer. If you don’t have a dryer, dry laundry outside, if possible because wet clothes add to the humidity in your home.

3. Use Exhaust Fans in Bathrooms and Kitchens 

Excess moisture builds up after showering or bathing. Let the fan run for at least 5 minutes after you’re done. Newer bathroom fans have timers to ensure they continue running to allow excess moisture to be removed. Also, running the kitchen exhaust fans when cooking will eliminate odors and excess heat.

4. Keep HVAC (Heater and Air Conditioner) Filters Clean

Your HVAC system circulates air throughout your entire home. With a dirty filter, your HVAC system can’t do an effective job cleaning the air and will make your system work harder. Filters are easy to replace and should be done every three months. See our video.

5. Reduce Humidity, Especially in the Summertime

Using exhaust fans, covering cooking pots, and taking shorter showers help. Excess humidity problems can be solved cheaply with a portable dehumidifier. Ideally, place one in the basement and hook it up to drain continuously.
See our dehumidifier tips.

How-to Drywall

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

by Robin Renner, Director of Construction

Are dings and dents in your wall starting to stick out like a sore thumb?  

With the coronavirus keeping most of us homebound these days, you are probably noticing things around your house that need fixing. If you’ve got extra time on your hands, why not learn and practice some new skills and give simple repairs a go. I’m taking this time to start or complete projects around my own home, and I thought I could share some of my favorite links for DIY skills. 

Let’s start with some basic drywall skills. 

Working with drywall gets easier the more you learn and practice. I recommend checking out Home Depot and Lowe’s websites, which have sections focusing on Do-It-Yourself skills. You’ll find short videos and guides for home repair and maintenance. Start with the drywall repair section. I’m always on the lookout for tricks, tips, and new ideas to improve my drywall skills. I guarantee you’ll learn something, whether you’re a beginner or an old hand at drywall repair!  

Video Links:

The videos linked below have tips and techniques that will really up your game. When you do pick up the drywall tools, you’ll be better prepared for a smooth and flawless drywall patch.

Home Depot: How to Patch Drywall

Lowe’s: How to Patch and Repair Drywall

Vancouver Carpenter: Taping and Mudding 101


Also take a moment to familiarize yourself with the jargon of drywall. Download my Drywall Glossary with links to examples, so you will be in the know.

  • “Mud” is the shorthand name for drywall taping compound or joint compound. It’s a gypsum-based paste used to finish drywall joints and corners in new drywall installations and for general repairs such as repairing cracks and holes in existing drywall and plaster surfaces. All are easy to sand with sandpaper or a wet sponge. (Learn about different kinds of mud in the Drywall Glossary.)

  • Joint tape is used to repair seams and cracks. There are several choices: mesh and paper.


  • Avoid ‘spackle’ or other patching compounds. They are meant for very small holes, are difficult to apply, and are often hard to sand.

Now get to work and watch a few of the videos. Then, get out your tools and practice repairing the cracks, dings, and holes in your own house.

Post a photo of your work on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and tag us @yachaddc. Check back soon for more How-to Tips.