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What’s Wrong With This Picture? Plus a Trick Question

We’ll show you the problem—and the fix.

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quick and easy handrail dangerous whats wrong with this pictureFamily Handyman

Quick-and-Easy Handrail

Three slapped-together 2x2s do not a railing make. It’s hard to say which this getup fails at more miserably—looks or safety.

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installing iron handrail exterior steps

The Right Way:


Adding a custom-made wrought iron rail is the best way to provide a strong, safe, code-compliant handrail for your exterior stairs. After careful measuring, an ornamental iron company will weld the parts to create a perfect-fitting rail. The rail can be bolted down or set in holes that are then filled with mortar.

Replace a wobbly old outdoor handrail with a rock solid one by using strong concrete anchors. Add safety and style with a custom outdoor stair railing.

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electrified gas line Family Handyman

Electrified Gas Line


Bonding your CSST (corrugated stainless steel tubing) to your electrical system is required by code, but this is a disaster waiting to happen. The bonding clamp may pierce a hole in the thin wall of the gas tubing, and the plastic jacket prevents an effective bonding connection.

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gas line installed correctlyFamily Handyman


The Right Way:

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for bonding CSST. The electrical bonding jumper must be connected to a CSST transition fitting or somewhere on the rigid gas pipe. Go to csstsafety.com for more information.

Learn How to Connect Gas Pipe Lines.

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whats wrong with this picture exposed exterior electrical wireFamily Handyman

Good Idea, Bad Execution


Adding a motion detector light outdoors provides extra security at night. But there are right and wrong ways to do it. Nonmetallic-sheathed cable is not approved for use in wet or damp locations, outdoors or in direct sunlight. Also, and maybe more important in this installation, conductors, raceways and cables must always be protected from physical damage.

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Install Surface-Mounted Wiring and ConduitFamily Handyman


The Right Way:

The installer should have used electrical metallic tubing (Type EMT, also called thin-wall conduit) or rigid PVC conduit (Type PVC). Both are approved for use in wet outdoor locations.

With metal conduit, you can run power almost anywhere. Here’s how to do it safely and easily.

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hardwood floor rug cover up old wood floorFamily Handyman

Rug Cover-Up

To save money when installing a new hardwood floor, the homeowner had left the old flooring that was covered by the rug. The home inspector pulled back the rug and discovered the ploy…and pulled the rug out from under the homeowner.

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dfh17sep035_80066764_12 sell your home installing hardwood floorsMichael Pettigrew/Shutterstock

The Right Way:

Installing a new hardwood floor used to be a lot of commotion. You had to schedule an installation and have the installer haul in a pallet of raw hardwood flooring and bang it in with a huge mallet and floor nailer. However, prefinished flooring has changed all that. Now you can install a new wood floor that’s completely finished from A to Z in a single weekend. You’ll be amazed at the beauty, practicality and speed of installation of a staple-down prefinished wood floor. No rug cover-up needed here!

Learn how to install hardwood floors here.

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widow maker electrical bypass circuit breaker Family Handyman

Never Bypass Your Circuit Breakers

Adding a circuit by tapping directly into one of the cables feeding power to your breaker panel is extremely dangerous. And earns the award of the widow-maker award.

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circuit breaker boardFamily Handyman

The Right Way:

Every circuit must be protected by a circuit breaker. Most electrical panels have spare spaces where a breaker can be added. Connecting the hot conductor to the breaker screw protects against overloads, overheating, short circuits and ground faults that can lead to a fire.

Home inspectors come across all kinds of nightmarish stuff. Here are 100 of our favorite scary home inspector nightmares.

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trick question stacked electrical boxes light bulbFamily Handyman

Trick Question: Stack O’ Boxes

Believe it or not, there may not be anything wrong with this stack of metal electrical boxes. As long as they can be taken apart to gain access to the wires in the original box, they meet the code requirement for accessibility. However, if you installed a ceiling over this, you could no longer separate the boxes, making the connections in the original box inaccessible. Then this would not comply with electrical codes.