The Handyguys Podcast - Working Together on that Honey Do List Home Energy Savings Tool tests

How To Cut Metal, CFL Safety And Water Saving Flush Valves

by The Handyguys

in Audio Podcasts, Radio

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The Handygys discuss three topics on this audio podcast – what tools are used to cut metal, are CFLs safe in kids rooms and are water saving flush valves a good investment.

Cutting metal

From time to time homeowners need to cut metal. What do you use to cut metal? Paul grills Brian on what tools he would use.

Metal CuttingIt will depend on several factors such as:

  • What the metal is
  • Quality of the cut
  • How quickly you need to cut
  • How easily you need the cut

Some possible tools are:

CFLs in a kids room

CFL BulbsCFLs in a kids room? What is the issue? Handyguy Paul has several young kids and is concerned that if a lamp gets knoced over he will have to deal with mercury contained inside a typical CFL bulb is the bulb breaks. Is this a valid concern? What are people doing? Is LED a viable option? Are there mercury free CFL bulbs? Rugged CFL bulbs?

Is there such thing as a safer (not easy to break, no mercury) high-efficiency light bulb that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Water Saving flush valves

Handyguy Brian came across a discussion regarding “water saving fill valves” for your toilet. The principle is they do a half flush (.8 gallons of water) when you do not have solids and a normal 1.6 gallon flush when you need it. In areas where water is scarce this is important, if you have a well that runs dry its extremely important to conserve every drop. The question is – Do these devices make sense for people who are in areas of the country where there are not water restrictions, there are not scarcity issues, and water is plentiful? If you are on your own well then no. How about those that pay for “city water”?

Doing the math
out house

A toilet like this one doesn't use ANY water!

If you pay for water and, like we said, you are in an area where water isn’t scarce, these devices do not make sense. Here is why:

These fill valves cost about $25

The average cost of city water in the US is $1.50 per 1000 gallons or $0.0015 per gallon

That equates to an average cost per flush in the US of $0.0024

If you round the numbers that is about four flushes for one penny or $0.0096

If half the flushes required a full flush and half could use a half flush and the toilet is used 10 times per day you would save half a penny a day!

The savings would be about $2.19 per year. You would need to use the product for 11 years before you can see a return on investment (ROI).

Okay – we rounded the numbers and made some assumptions but the point is the same. If you don’t live in an area where you don’t have water restrictions or shortages you do not need a product like this.

Make sure you listen to the podcast for all the riveting discussion!

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve July 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Hey Paul & Brian,
I recently had an experience with replacing bi-fold doors with by-pass doors. When the bi-fold doors were open, they protruded into the room against the adjacent wall and took up some usable wall space.
I bought two six-panel doors, that had not been pre-drilled for door knobs or hinges. The combined width of the two doors was about an inch greater than the overall door opening. I bought the top rail which allows the two doors to slide pass each other. I cut it to length with a HACKSAW, with no problem. After removing the old top track and installing the new top track, I had to trim out the top of the opening to hide the track, and also had to use two strips of 1/2 inch thick MDF, installed vertically on each side of the opening for the doors to close against, so that there was a little more overlap of the two doors when they are closed. Everything worked well. Looks great. And it freed up some wall space.

Another bi-fold story… I was helping my brother-in-law get his rental condo ready for a new renter. We discovered that the bi-fold closet door, which has full-length mirrors on each section, drags on the carpet as it opens, leaving a black stain from the metal frame.
I tried to adjust the door higher, but did not have enough room to get it up off the carpet. I guess our only options are to either replace the doors with wooden ones that can be trimmed up from the bottom to clear the carpet, or replace the carpet with a shorter pile or solid flooring. Any other ideas?

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The Handyguys July 16, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Hey Steve – Thanks for the comment. I think you have summed it up. Doors that can be trimmed, lower pile carpet, shorter, custom doors, hardwood floors or, one you didn’t mention, re-frame the opening a little taller. You could possible recess the top track into the drywall perhaps.

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Steve July 16, 2010 at 7:41 pm

CFLs!
Curses!
My wife keeps saying that we need to convert to CLFs to “save energy”. But, I have tried every CFL I can find, and have not found any with a pleasing color temperature.
Several years ago, we converted all of our fixtures to the GE Reveal incandescent bulbs. We found these to give a very pleasing and true color rendition. They have a rare earth element, neodymium, baked into the glass, which filters out the ugly yellows and reds that are characteristic of regular incandescent bulbs.
So now, we are spoiled. None of the available color temperatures of the CFLs compare to the pleasing light of the Reveals. No one seems to be able to quantify the true color temperature or CRI of the Reveal incandescents, so there isn’t a way to compare them to any of the CFLs on the market.
But wait! GE came out with a Reveal CFL!
Finally, a solution! So I bought a bushel of the Reveal CFLs, only to find them to be nothing like their incandescent cousins.
So, I continue to search – meanwhile, I follow my energy-conscious (not!) wife around the house, turning off the lights she leaves on.

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The Handyguys July 16, 2010 at 9:49 pm

I have the same issue with my kids!

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Steve July 16, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Can you tell, this podcast struck several notes with me…
Mercury in CFLs….
The amount of Hg in these bulbs is so small; 4-5 milligrams, or an
amount equivalent to the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
I suggest that you instruct children to react to a broken CFL in the same way they would react to a broken incandescent bulb – don’t touch anything and call mom or dad immediately! The broken glass probably offers more danger that the mercury.
I remember in grade school, we played with beakers full of mercury! We rolled globs of it across our desktops, and pooled it in the palms of our hands.
I’ve had no side-effects at all. … except for those occasional gjiihb’srtsrbvuo’otrsb uncontrollable twitches.

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The Handyguys July 16, 2010 at 9:50 pm

ha, I remember breaking a mercury thermometer in the bathroom and playing with the beads of mercury on the tile floor!

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The Handyguys July 16, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Steve – no comments on the non-savings of a water saving fill valve? ;)

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The Handyguys July 16, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Steve – no comments on the non-savings of a water saving fill valve? ;)

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JeffB July 19, 2010 at 3:56 pm

On cutting metal… what self respecting “handy man” doesn’t have a CNC mill sitting in their shop? ;-)

On CFLs… I am with Steve. The mercury is in vapor form which makes it worse than liquid form but the amount is so small I think the hazmat-like instructions for cleaning up one are ridiculous. However, if your kids are going to be knocking over their lamps all the time it probably doesn’t make any economic sense given how much a CFL bulb costs compared to an incandescent. You can try an LED light but I tried one, hated the color temperature, and immediately returned it. I have a daylight balanced CFL in my kid’s room. It is in a small lamp on a nightstand and I have never worried about it — of course my kid has never knocked the lamp over. One nice thing about CFLs is that you can get more light out of it for a small lamp that isn’t rated for much wattage. All that said, I agree with your general assertion that all bedrooms need lights in the ceiling and have installed ceiling fans (with lights) in all the bedrooms in my house. You don’t even need a switch(es) to control them as many have remote controls you can mount on the wall.

On dual flush toilets… I have actually installed two in my house. I bought this one: http://www.gomjsi.com/products/overview/hydroright

By and large, very few green products make any economic sense but just because they don’t doesn’t necessarily make them an unwise decision. I recently spent good money on two tumbling composters to minimize the amount of trash I create. So I have the cost of the composters plus the cost of loading them and tumbling them, etc. on one side versus zero cost on the other side — I play a flat rate for garbage collection so the amount of waste I am preventing from going to a landfill saves me absolutely zero dollars. I do get nice compost out of it but I don’t even garden and will likely be giving it away. Does me composting make any economic sense? Nope. But I still do it because I think not every decision we make comes down to simple economics.

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The Handyguys July 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Thanks for commenting Jeff. The CNC mill is on my list of handyguy tools ;)

re green tech – yes, its not always economics. I guess the point regarding water savings is that it just doesn’t matter for some people. I know a property that is served by an artesian well, the water runs 24/7 and has run continuously for all of recorded history. Saving a half liter of water per flush makes zero sense in situations where water is always plentiful. I suppose if it makes someone feel good then that has some benefits. Your composting example is a little different. Landfills are expensive to build and by composting you help your trash hauler keeps its rates down and slows down the rate at which new landfills need to be built or closed.

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JeffB July 19, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I am not sure the water and composting examples are different. Water treatment facilities are not cheap. If I use less, then that means my county/state needs to build less facilities, needs to pull less water from the river (where my water comes from), etc. Lots of it is a calculation of what is good for an individual versus good for the community. Of course you also have the impact of manufacturing said product and its impact. More than enough variables to make your head spin and way above my pay grade anyway.

One thing to note is that your savings calculations are only for the cost of water, not for the fact that you have to pay to have that water treated. In my area my water cost is $2.71 per 1,000 gallons but my sewer costs are $4.05 per 1,000 gallons. The Hydroright folks have a calculator at http://dev.xpartanit.com/mjsi/uploads/water_conservation/mjsi_calc.swf and according to it you would pay for the cost of the valve in 3 years based on my water rates. As always, YMMV.

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Mark S August 3, 2010 at 9:16 am

After listening to this in the car a couple of weeks ago I finally am getting around to commenting about the cutting of metal.

I’ve always used by jigsaw with a metal blade to cut metal in the past and it has worked wonderfully. This was my go-to method when cutting wire shelving in the past, until last night. In my latest adventure in wire shelving I purchased some bolt cutters on the recommendations this episode had and now I won’t be cutting them any other way in the future. They made very easy work out of cutting and I didn’t get any of the horrible vibrations I would get when using the jigsaw.

As always, thanks to Brian and Paul for continually talking about interesting topics.

Mark

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Brad T September 3, 2010 at 6:17 pm

On the toilet valve issue: I have used MJSI products a lot recently. With my remodel projects, I will install either the HyrdoClean valve or HydroRight dual flush kit. The dual flush kits save a lot more water per flush and save more money (when used consistently). I have a lot of positive feedback from my clients and I’m happy to help families go green.

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Teresa February 22, 2011 at 9:14 pm

We use Ikea’s cfls. The coils are encased in what seems to be a rubbery-coated incandescent-looking bulb. The color is more yellowish (compared to the awful blue -white glare of GE bulbs), and we are very pleased with the warm glow they cast in our kitchen. We put incandescent (Reveal, I think) bulbs in the light fixture portion of the ceiling fan in our daughter’s room, because it’s on a dimmer. Her plug-in lamp is from Ikea, and the bulb is both well encased in surrounding plastic of the lamp shade, and very cool to the touch.

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The Handyguys February 22, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Teresa – Thanks for taking the time to comment and provide some great info!

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