Mar 292010

This is not my typical tech project, but I really wanted to write about it because it turned out so well.  The accelerator in our car had been sticking for a while now, and lately it had been getting worse.  I knew it was the throttle body because the same thing happened a few years ago, and the dealer service rep. explained that a “throttle body cleaning” would get rid of the sticking.  I have to give some credit to wife for getting this project going, because she was the one who did a little research and found a lot of folks online who talked about doing it themselves.  So in the interest of saving a trip to the shop, I decided to try this one on my own.

View of my car's engine showing the throttle body location.

Where's Waldo? Or, find the Throttle Body.

I did some research of my own online before I got started, and it’s a good thing I did.  I found out that I could actually damage the sensors (i.e. mass air flow sensor) just past the throttle if I used the carburetor cleaner I had on hand (used for cleaning the lawn mower carburetor and engine).  Instead, I stopped at AutoZone (which, by the way, doesn’t show its in-store product inventory on its website, so you actually have to go to the store to see if they have what you need) and found a cleaner made just for this job: Throttle Body & Air Intake Cleaner by CRC Industries, Inc.

Armed with enough knowledge to be dangerous and a beautiful, sunny weekend afternoon, I headed out to the driveway to see if I could figure this out.  Continue reading »

Mar 012010
Icicles hanging off my roof.

Water: you don't want this stuff inside your walls in any form.

As anyone in the AEC industry should be able to tell you, water is the enemy of building structures.  It’s really pretty obvious if you think about it: we slope our roofs so that rain and melting snow run off, we finish the roof with weather resistant materials that don’t mind getting wet, in many areas of the country we use gutters to collect the water and divert it away from the foundations, we clad the vertical surfaces of our buildings with a wide variety of materials that keep the rain from getting inside parts of the building where it can cause rust and decay, we slope the ground around our buildings away so that water does not collect and sit against the walls, and anything that goes into the ground, especially basement walls and floors, have to be built with waterproofing materials and details so that water in the ground does not compromise these elements. (We could, of course, talk about all the fun things we can do with water when we talk about sustainable design, but even then, we pay careful attention to the details so that the water remains where we want it and not in the structure). Once we have done everything necessary to keep outdoor water out, we also take steeps to keep indoor water from creating problems.  For example, water supply pipes have shut-off valves in multiple locations so that leaks can be easily stopped and repaired; and drain pipes are carefully sloped and vented to prevent clogs that can lead to floods.

If your home is anything like mine, you may find many of your maintenance tasks relate to this fundamental issue of keeping water in its place.   Continue reading »