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How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding and Maintaining Your Home, Updated and Expanded Paperback – February 28, 2012

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How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding and Maintaining Your Home, Updated and Expanded + Home Maintenance For Dummies + Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual: Completely Revised and Updated
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: RSMeans; 2 edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118099400
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118099407
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

An easy-to-understand, richly illustrated guide to how everything in a house works

Why is my faucet leaking, my toilet running, or my dishwasher refusing to start? Can I fix it myself? What's causing the heating system to smell bad or the foundation to crack? Do I need an air filtration system? Is the new "engineered lumber" as good as conventional wood? These are just a few examples of questions homeowners face when repairs are needed or when a new house or addition is being planned.

This new edition of How Your House Works uncovers the mysteries behind just about every major appliance and building element in your house. Clear "exploded" drawings show you exactly how these things should be put together and how they function—what to check if they don't work, and what you can do that might save you from calling in a professional.

The easy-to-understand pictures and explanations on every page get right to the point, helping you understand how things work, what can go wrong, and how to troubleshoot a problem.

Virtually everything in your house is included:

  • Electrical – circuit breakers and grounding, service, outlets, lamps, and fixtures

  • Heating and air conditioning – gas, electrical, and oil, ductwork and piping, thermostats, central and window AC units, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, and air filtering systems

  • Plumbing – kitchen and bath fixtures, piping, water heaters, traps and vents, septic tanks, and pumps and water softener systems (even sprinkler systems and swimming pool filters/heaters)

  • Major household appliances – from kitchen to laundry

  • Foundation, framing, doors, and windows – including issues like drainage and radon, types of framing and how it supports the house, and all types of doors and windows

  • Sustainability and beyond – covers sustainability and issues outside the house, as well as clock thermostats, ventless gas heaters, moisture and mold, and¿¿passive solar heating

This quick and easy guide will save you time and money, answer nagging questions, and help you keep your house running smoothly.

About the Author

The author of more than twenty books on home repair and improvement, Charlie Wing is perhaps the most credible house-building teacher in the world. His writing and illustrations make complex home issues understandable. An MIT graduate, he developed and hosted a national PBS energy conservation series, Housewarming with Charlie Wing, and served as primary editorial developer for Home Depot's branded 1-2-3 books.

More About the Author

Charlie Wing, a nationally recognized authority on home building and remodeling, home repair, energy conservation and boating, specializes in translating and illustrating technical information into easily understood layman's terms. A PhD graduate of MIT, Principle Investigator in NASA's Apollo Lunar Program, and Physics Instructor at Bowdoin College, he cofounded the nation's first two owner-builder schools, developed the first DOE-approved computerized home energy audit, wrote and hosted the national PBS TV series, "Housewarming with Charlie Wing", appeared on over 400 radio and television shows about energy conservation, served as founding and technical editor for "Smart Homeowner Magazine" and has written and illustrated 30 books. He lives on the Coast of Maine.

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Customer Reviews

The diagrams and pictures are very clear.
Jill Guntur
This is a good book to replace that common sense that God never have you in order to fix things around the house.
Every home owner (and renter) should have this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Leif Sheppard VINE VOICE on March 31, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What's problematic about DIY guides is that they're either much too technical for the laymen it purports to be written for, or the text leans to the other end of the spectrum and ends up an overly-simplified outline of the subject, never quite diving deep enough into the material. "How Your House Works" falls into the latter category, as the text covers a wide range of material but never rests long enough on one topic to be of much use. The subtitle "A visual guide to understanding and maintaining your home" is also somewhat misleading because the book offers much more in the way of 'understanding' and precious little in the way of 'maintaining'. However, the book is wonderfully packed with illustrations detailing how several dozen devices within your home operate. The maintenance and troubleshooting suggestions are relegated to a box on the side of the page. The material within those boxes range from utterly useless to reasonably helpful.

While I can understand how a dishwasher works, that still leaves me far from knowing how to maintain one. The brief tips on troubleshooting and maintenance are often helpful only to a small degree. The text recommends dishwasher owners periodically "Remove the spray arms and clean the spray holes" without offering help as to exactly how to clean them. There are a myriad of ways to do this, with some methods being significantly more effective than others, and the text often lacks clear detail in these areas. Other tips are even less helpful, such as "Make sure you are using dishwasher detergent, not dishwashing detergent". If that's your problem, toss the book in the trash and leave your home maintenance/repair to your local repair shops. In fact, perhaps you should hand wash your dishes.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By maximum verbosity TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book was exactly what I was looking for. I've been a homeowner for 17 years and I'm by NO means a DYI expert. But, I am more than willing to try to figure something out myself and THEN call a professional if I screw it up too badly. Thankfully, those times have been far and few between. I don't do electrical stuff, I leave that up to my husband who was trained in the Navy how to do that stuff. But will I take out an old sink and put in a new one while my husband is at work? You betcha. And yes, the sink works perfectly, not a drip or clog in sight. Have I knocked down the walls to our foyer closet because I was sick of the kids throwing all of their crap in there and never shutting the doors correctly (which were the 70's style sliding doors that were always falling off of their tracks anyway). Yes, yes I have done that. Now we have a much more open foyer and a nice, neat place to put shoes, book bags and jackets, thanks to my - - willingness to learn new things.

However, in my creative endeavors around the house, there have been times where I really needed a clear, easy-to-follow, well illustrated and straight to the point guide to help me understand what exactly was behind the wall I was getting ready to knock down. I bought a few books, I looked stuff up on the internet, etc. It got really confusing and I often got distracted by other clutter online and we ended up sleeping in a film of drywall dust that night.

This book is perfect for my needs. It has simple pictures and diagrams on how things work. Things like your garbage disposal, hot water heater, basic plumbing, what happens when you flush the toilet (and why the stuff might be coming back OUT instead of DOWN), etc.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ctwink VINE VOICE on March 24, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"I'm convinced that most of today's homeowners live in a perpetual state of anxiety. While school has taught us math, foreign languages, and computer sciences, most of us have no idea how our furnace, refrigerator, or even kitchen faucet works. This is an expensive omission in our educations."
"In metropolitan areas, the minimum charge for a plumber or appliance repairperson to come to your home is about $150. In fact repair services are now so expensive that the leading consumer magazine recommends replacing, rather than repairing, appliances over five years old. Why don't more people attempt simple repairs themselves?"

Why indeed!

With this simple and straightforward beginning, I was hooked. When many of the household appliances and equipment that we use on a day-to-day basis appear to be too complicated to comprehend, we instead call Joe the Plumber for even simple problems. However, many appliances only give the APPEARANCE of being complicated because this is our knee-jerk assumption from not understanding how they work. Enter "How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding and Maintaining Your Home" by Dr. Charlie Wing. Inside you we see informative drawings of how your hydronic (i.e. piping), electrical, and HVAC (i.e. heating & cooling) systems work in your house as well as the appliances and equipment that connect into these systems such as sinks, water heaters, light switches, furnace filters, ceiling fans, and more. In addition, there are also sections on "Windows & Doors", "Foundation & Frame" (i.e. how your home is built structurally), "Outdoors" (which includes such items as 2- and 4-cycle motors, lawn mowers, and chain saws) and lastly "Toward Sustainability" (which gets into specifics about lowering your utility bills and living greener).
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