Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Replacing An Existing Toilet

Replacing a toilet is not that difficult. You should allow about four hours, which should be more than enough time to make the switch over.

Before you purchase your toilet, you will want to measure the distance from the wall to the two bolts at the bottom of the toilet that are securing it to the floor. This is called the rough in measurement and is generally twelve inches. Be sure to let the salesman at the store know this so you can be certain the toilet will fit.

To begin removal of the old toilet, first turn off the water supply and flush, holding the handle down to remove as much water as possible. There will be some remaining, so be very careful when carrying out the old toilet. It is a good idea to put a plastic liner down over any carpet you will be walking on while carrying the toilet outside.

Remove the bottom nuts and carefully lift the toilet. Carry it outside immediately, taking care to keep it as level as possible to prevent water spills.

Check over the existing plate for cracks. If it passes inspection, you can reuse it. Carefully clean off any wax residue from the old wax ring. Make certain the plate is securely attached to the floor and not loose. If the current plate is below the existing floor, you will most likely need to get an extended wax ring and longer bolts.

Place the ring on the plate, flat side down, and make certain it is properly centered. Carefully lift the toilet and set it down on the ring, making certain the bolts come through the holes properly before actually resting the bowl on the ring.

This is very important. You do not want to rock the toilet in order to seat it to the wax ring or you may end up with a leak. Press down on the toilet evenly until it makes full contact with the floor.

You have two washers. Take the tap washer first and put it over the bolts. Look carefully at the instructions to see the proper way this slips on. Slip on the metal washer next. Put on the nuts and hand tighten.

Begin to tighten the nuts with an open-end wrench, alternating between the two nuts, until the toilet is secure. You can take a mini hacksaw and cut off the excess portion of the bolts in order to finish the installation by putting on the plastic cap that covers the nuts. Place that into position and simply hit it with your hand to set it. It's not a bad idea to complete water installation and testing before cutting the bolts in the event you have leaks and need to redo the installation.

Hook up the water supply hose and turn the water back on. Let the bowl fill and flush. Check for leaks. If it passes inspection, your job is complete.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Many Uses of Solar Energy and How it Really Works

Before diving into the vast number of uses for solar energy, it is important to have a solid understanding of solar energy itself. Solar energy is electricity generated by the Sun's radiation which is absorbed through square material known as "solar cells".

To put it simply: the Sun's rays heat up solar cells, and the heat's energy is converted into electricity to power anything from small devices such as laptop bags to entire buildings.

Four Classes of Solar Energy

There are four major styles of solar energy: direct, indirect, active and passive.

Direct solar energy systems convert the thermal energy once, while indirect systems convert the energy multiple times. Active solar means there are mechanical and electrical parts. Passive systems do not use any mechanical parts to convert the energy to electricity.

"So how does solar energy actually work?"

There are many methods for capturing the power of the Sun's energy, but the most common devices are "Photovoltaic cells". These are commonly known as solar cell semiconductors that produce electricity whenever the external material is exposed to heat. The cells also naturally store thermal (heat) energy so the device the cells are powering can work when it is dark as well.

Basically, the Sun's heat is absorbed by the silicon cells, and the energy is stored and converted for use by the semiconductor inside the cells.

"How can solar energy help me?"

When solar energy cells were first introduced in 1941 by Russell Ohl, people hardly realized how this simple invention could change the World. The biggest problem with the energy technique has been the initial cost. However, while silicon is expensive, people have been recently turning to powering their entire house with solar cells!

Yes, there is a large initial investment, but by eliminating your electric bill for the rest of your life, there is a good chance you'll recoup the loss. Many people use solar energy to heat their water (tap, showers, swimming pools, etc.) without powering their entire home. This is much cheaper, but it can still have a positive impact on utility bills and the environment.

There have been many other smaller uses, too. In 2006, a small electronics company invented a solar cell laptop bag that could not only carry your laptop, but constantly charge it on the go!
There practically an infinite number of possibilities for small devices being charged with solar energy and eliminating the need for charging every night for hours just to get a few hours of use.

As solar cell production costs decrease, more companies will be able to produce solar-powered devices and accessories the public can afford. Either way, solar energy is a reliable, natural source of energy that can be used to power practically anything, and it won't run out until the Sun does!