DIY Quiz: Vol. 2 Answers

What’s your level of expertise?

1. What is synthetic motor oil derived from?

A. Natural gas

B. Various types of vegetable oils

C. Petroleum

D. Coal oil

pouring motor oil into car

(A & C) Synthetic oil is unique in that the raw materials, either natural gas or petroleum, have been specially processed so that the molecules are all pretty much the same size. That makes the synthetic oil much more slippery than conventional oil, giving it superior lubricating properties. It also has very high-quality additives. Although synthetic oil costs two or more times as much as conventional oil, in many cases it enables you to go twice as long between oil changes. Since it reduces engine wear, it’s a wise upgrade.

2. True or False? Torque wrenches come in two calibrations: foot-pounds and inch-pounds.

foot pound and inch pound wrenches

True. A foot-pound is a pound’s worth of force applied 1 ft. away from the socket. You can figure out what an inch-pound is, right? By dividing the specified torque by 12, you can use a foot-pound torque wrench in place of an inch-pound wrench. Although you can also convert an inch-pound wrench to a foot-pound wrench by multiplying by 12, it’s not practical because the smaller wrench doesn’t give you enough leverage for the higher torque ranges.

3. A light fixture or receptacle outlet that can be controlled from two switches uses a “three-way” rather than an ordinary “single-pole” switch. So what is a “four-way” switch used for?

A. There’s no such thing. There are only single-pole and three-way switches.

B. Four-way switches are used in nonresidential settings to control devices from three locations.

C. Four-way switches are used for electrical devices that require 240-volt service.

D. Four-way switches work with three-way switches to control devices from three or more locations.

Close up glowing light bulbChones/Shutterstock

(D) Four-way switches are installed between two three-way switches so you can have as many switches as you want to control the receptacle or light fixture.

4. When it comes to electrical devices, what does “AFCI” stand for?

A. Advanced fault circuit integration

B. Arc-fault circuit interrupter

C. Arc-fault current interrupter

D. Alternating fault circuitry


(B) Arc-fault circuit interrupter. It’s a safety device that detects electrical arcing, generally from poor connections or damaged wiring. If wire-to-wire or wire-to-terminal screw connections aren’t tight, or wiring becomes damaged or broken, electricity can “arc” (like a spark plug) and create a fire hazard.

5. True or False? The only sure way to test a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is to use a GFCI circuit tester.

testing GFCI outletsFamily Handyman

False. The best way is to press the “test” button on the GFCI outlet to see if the outlet goes dead. If you test older GFCIs with a tester, you may get an OK, but wrong, reading. That’s because it was possible to reverse the “Load” and “Line” wiring on older GFCIs, resulting in no shock protection.

6. What is the bulge below this water valve?

A. It’s a copper “aneurysm” that could burst anytime.

B. Made up of layers of lead, it connects a lead pipe to a threaded fitting.

C. It’s a lead patch applied years ago to fix a leak.

D. None of the above.

water pipe bulge

(B) This is a lead water pipe leading into the house from the street. It was joined to the fitting by building up layers of molten lead. Generally, lead water pipe isn’t a health concern because the inside of the pipe becomes lined with a protective layer of minerals. But if your older home has lead water pipes, you should test your water with a lead test kit (about $15 online) to be sure it’s safe.

7. Why is nylon the best choice for carpeting in high-traffic areas?

A. It’s the most durable carpet fiber available.

B. It won’t show footprints and is less likely to get matted.

C. It’s very soft and luxurious underfoot.

D. It’s actually better suited for low-traffic areas.

nylon carpet roll

(A & B) Nylon outperforms other fibers in durability, resilience and easy maintenance. Polyester is soft and luxurious underfoot. Because it’s not as durable as nylon, it’s best used in low-traffic areas like bedrooms.

8. True or False? You can cut steel studs with just a utility knife.

trying to cut steel stud with utility knife

False. The flanges need to be cut first with a tin snips, but after that, you can just score the steel face with a utility knife and the stud will snap right off.

9. True or False? It’s very important to caulk butt seams when you install fiber cement siding.

mounting siding with butt joint

False. Caulking butt joints is unnecessary, and some manufacturers prohibit it. However, you should flash behind the joints with metal, house wrap or even 30-lb. felt paper.

10. Why is house wrap required by code?

A. It keeps drafts out of the house.

B. It keeps warm air in the house.

C. It provides a second water barrier behind siding to keep wall sheathing dry.

D. It prevents moisture from leaving the house.

house wrap installation

(A, B & C) Unlike plastic sheeting, house wrap is a vapor permeable membrane. Air won’t pass through it in either direction, but water vapor will. That prevents walls and sheathing from being damaged by condensation.

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