How It Works

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an assortment of electrical cables labeled in different languages
How to Read a Cable
Understand the difference between cable and conduit and the various types of each.
a drawing of a water heater with pipes and wires connected to the back of it
How a Tankless Water Heater Works
Tankless water heaters, which produce hot water on demand rather than keeping a tankful of water constantly hot, are becoming increasingly popular as builders and homeowners realize how much energy they can save over a conventional tank-style heater. In this “How It Works” article, associate editor Rob Yagid explores the inside of a tankless heater and describes what happens at each step of the heating process.
a man working on an electrical panel with the words hvac five - task commissioning process
The HVAC Commissioning Process
This critical five-task commissioning process ensures forced-air heating and cooling is quiet, comfortable, and problem-free.
a thermometer showing how high it is to go in this house, and where you
The HERS Index
“A home energy auditor such as a certified RESNET Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rater will conduct a whole-house evaluation including a computer software analysis to identify and prioritize proposed treatments for improvement,” he said. “This is followed by a detailed report providing suitable retrofit requirement recommendations and specifications.”
an electric vehicle charging in front of a house with the words tools & materials what electric vehicle owners need to know about safely installing and operating
Take Charge of Electric Vehicle Charging
In this article, learn the different levels of electric vehicle charging. For most homeowners who own an EV, Level 2 charging will be the most accessible amount of power, but there are a number of installation considerations and EV charging features to keep in mind when selecting a Level 2 EV charger.
the diagram shows how to break the thermal bridge in order to prevent heat from falling
Thermal Bridging Explained
Learn how to improve the effectiveness of insulation.
the science and art of better home lighting is an excellent way to learn how to use it
The Science and Art of Better Home Lighting
Understanding our field of vision offers a novel approach to ­lighting for comfort, work, safety, and more.
Illustration showing the difference between lighting zones in the eyes Learning, Unique Makeup, Understanding, Light Wave, Comfort, Zone 9, The Retina
Lighting Comfort Zones
Everything we see—the trees outside, the tools in our hands, the smile of a loved one—comes into our eyes in waves of light, but not all light is treated the same way by our body. The retina (the lining of densely packed light receivers in the back of our eye) is divided into different sections, each with its own unique makeup of cells.
“twisted” and “braided” ropes next to each other for comparison Rope Twist, Ropes, Rope, Safety Rope, Twist, Polyester, Embroidered Friendship Bracelet, Types Of Anchors, Body Harness
Safety Rope Options
The world of rope options is large, and the terminology can get confusing, but in general vertical lifeline ropes fall into either the “twisted” category or the “braided” category.
Illustration depicting ice dam Roof Repair, Roof Construction, Roof Insulation, Roof Sheathing, Roof Cladding, Fibreglass Roof, Roof, Ramps Architecture
What are Ice Dams?
Ice dams form when a home’s escaping heat warms the roof sheathing and melts the underside of the snow layer on the roof.
Contractor installing shingles on a roof
Will Your Next Asphalt Roof Last a Lifetime?
Asphalt shingles have come a long way since the advent of the simple three-tab. Now, durable laminated shingles dominate the market.
How it Works: Frost Heave
How it Works: Frost Heave
How it Works: Frost Heave
In cold climates, you need to build driveways, foundations, and other structures correctly to prevent expanding ice and soil from damaging them.
a poster with the words more burn for your buck in it's center and an image of wood stacked on top
How Firewood Burns
Wood with higher density puts out more heat. This is why hardwoods like oak and hickory are more commonly used for firewood over softwoods like cedar or pine. *Heat values for types of firewood in millions of Btu per full cord of wood. (Photo: © Rimglow |
a house with the words how it works household electricity
How it Works: Household Electricity
n this issue’s “How It Works,” licensed electrician Cliff Popejoy explains the ins and outs of household electricity. Using an illustration of a typical house, Popejoy begins where electrical power enters from the overhead drop wires and proceeds through the meter to the breaker panel and then throughout the house via branch-circuit wiring. He discusses wiring and identifies the purposes of each of the conductors housed in nonmetallic-sheathed cable.
Illustration of firewood cord Cable, Cord, Insect Species, Buy Wood, Firewood
Buying Firewood by the Cord
There seems to be no shortage of harmful microorganisms and invasive insect species killing trees in North America, and eliminating tree disease from infected areas has proven near impossible. The best way to slow down the spread of these maladies is to avoid hauling contaminated firewood into uninfected areas. While wood bundles are often available at grocery stores and home centers, the most common and cost-effective way to buy wood is by the cord.