Posts filed under ‘Be Frugal’

WD-40 Ingredients and Uses

By Chad Upton | Editor

WD-40 was created in 1953 by Norm Larsen. It was originally designed to prevent corrosion caused by water — the WD stands for “water displacement.” Norm’s 40th formula was successful and that’s where the “40” comes from.

The formula is so secretive, they decided not to patent it. This may sound counter intuitive, but filing for a patent would require disclosing the ingredients.

That strategy was good for a while, but many years later, the Hazardous Communication regulation required that ingredients of potentially hazardous products be made available to emergency responders.

I did some digging and found the material safety data sheet for WD-40 (PDF).

The main ingredient is Stoddard solvent, which is also known by its own brand name, Varsol. CO2 is used as a propellant and mineral oil is another main ingredient.

It was first used to protect the Atlas missile from corrosion and it became available to consumers in 1958. Since then, consumers have found over 2000 uses that the WD-40 Company endorses (and many more it doesn’t).

There is a popular email circulating that you may have seen. It states WD-40 is primarily fish oil, but that’s not true. The email also lists a number of uses, although the WD-40 company only recommends about half of those. Some of the 2000 recommended uses include:

  • Stop squeaks (doors, bike chains)
  • Remove and prevent rust (lawn mower blades during off season, cookie tins/sheets)
  • Remove gum, glue, ink and lipstick from fabrics and other items
  • Lubricate metal parts (zippers, tools, machines)
  • Loosen nuts and screws
  • Cleaning (shower doors, tools, lime stains in toilet bowls)

Check out the full list of 2000 uses (PDF).

PS – The WD-40 company has an affinity for product names with numbers. They also make 2000 flushes, X-14, 3-in-one-oil and a few other products.

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Sources: Official WD-40 Uses (PDF), MSDS (PDF), Snopes

June 11, 2010 at 12:24 am 10 comments

Diesel Fuel Nozzles Don’t Fit in Standard Fuel Cars

Diesel cars are not popular in North America. But, diesel engines are fairly popular in pickup trucks and are becoming more popular in North American cars.

Although they have a limited history in America, foreign car manufacturers sell many diesel models in Europe.

Diesel engines are generally very efficient and that behind their new found demand. As diesel becomes more popular, you will likely see more diesel pumps.

This is good if you have a diesel car, potentially bad if you don’t. Diesel pumps present a slight risk to your standard gasoline vehicle — you do not want to put diesel fuel in a car that uses standard unleaded fuel.

Standard engines use spark plugs to burn the fuel, diesel engines use pressure and heat to cause a reaction in diesel fuel. That means standard engines will not burn diesel fuel. If you inadvertently put diesel in an unleaded car, the engine will stop very quickly. It’s not usually a total loss, the fuel system will have to be cleaned, filters will need to be changed and the whole process can cost as much as $600.

But, there is an easy way to avoid this costly mistake. First, diesel fuel dispensers are usually clearly marked with text and with a special color handle (the color varies by station).

Second, the nozzle on the end of a diesel fuel pump is slightly larger than a standard fuel nozzle. That means it won’t fit in your car’s gas hole, at least not that way you’re used to a pump nozzle fitting. If you notice that the nozzle isn’t going as far in as it usually does, check the pump, you might be holding a diesel trigger.

This same principle was used in the 80s when we transitioned from leaded to unleaded fuel. Leaded fuel nozzles wouldn’t not fit in unleaded gas holes.

Checkout some other gas related Broken Secrets:

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Answer Bag, WTSP, Dixon Nozzles (PDF)

Photo: teachernz (cc)

June 9, 2010 at 5:00 am 7 comments

Exhaust Fans Help Cool Your Home During Summer

The upper floor of your home is likely the warmest place in your home. It’s not usually a big deal in the winter, but it can be very uncomfortable in the summer. It happens because hot air rises.

The ceiling of your upper floor also has the most insulation of any place in your home. It’s there because hot air rises — in the winter, you don’t want to lose that heat. It’s the same reason you put a hat on your head in the winter.

In the summer, that thick insulation in your attic is doing the same thing it does in the winter, trapping that heat on your upper floor. If you have a central heating/cooling system, it should suck hot air from the upper floor and mix it with cooler air. But, it’s not always running and it can’t always keep up with the hot air that is produced inside your home, from people, electronics and appliances.

A good solution is to run the ceiling exhaust fan in a central bathroom on the upper floor during the hottest hours of the day. To help, you can get an automatic timer control light switch; these can be used to run the fan and have it automatically shutoff after a certain amount of time — this might also be useful after somebody uses the toilet.

In some regions, it is even part of the building code that an on/off switch for the upper floor hallway bathroom fan is placed next to the thermostat on the main floor. It’s there so you can turn on the exhaust fan when you turn on the air conditioner (there is also a switch in the bathroom to control it from there). This is not a widespread building code, but it’s worth having a look beside your thermostat. If you’ve got a light switch there that doesn’t do anything, try it again and listen for the hallway fan.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: MSU, About.com

June 2, 2010 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Inactive Cell Phones Can Still Call 911

Over half of 911 calls originate from cell phones. This number will only increase as traditional phone service declines and cell phone adoption rates continue to rise.

In the US and Canada, wireless phone operators are required by law to connect all calls to 911 services, whether the customer account is active, past due or even canceled.

Even if you don’t need a wireless phone for your social life, it may be a good idea to keep an old phone in your glove box in case of an emergency. There is even an organization called AmericanCellPhoneDrive.org where you can donate an old phone or request a free phone for this exact purpose.

If you have a disabled phone without a service contract and want to use it for 911 service, you may want to test it. DO NOT just dial 911 to test it, they will likely send help, even if you say it was just a test. The proper way to test 911 service is to call the non-emergency number for your local public safety answering point (PSAP) office and schedule a 911 test. That way, they will be expecting your call and know for sure that it is a test. In the US, there is a list of non-emergency contact numbers for PSAPs listed here.

When you call 911, you should be aware that your location will also be transmitted to the operator.

Some cell phones have built in GPS receivers, allowing them to receive radio signals from space and accurately determine a very precise location on earth. But, GPS is rarely available when indoors and obviously many calls originate indoors. Calls to 911 may not use GPS location data, because the phone does not support it or because a GPS signal cannot be found (typical when indoors).

When GPS is not available, the wireless provider can get a fairly accurate location of the phone by analyzing it’s signal and the location of the towers that are receiving it. Current regulations require that a phone carrier can pinpoint a cell phone within 300-600 meters, depending on the technology the phone is using. By 2012, phone carriers should be able to pinpoint you location within 50-300 meters.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: 911 Wireless Service, FCC

May 25, 2010 at 5:00 am 7 comments

Increase Your Income With Your Credit Card

There are two ways to get rich(er): spend less money and earn more money. Both can be tough, but here’s an easy way to start earning more money immediately.

Credit cards are a real life game and depending on how you play, you can win or lose real money.

When you lose, your credit card issuer wins big. When you win, your card issuer still wins, just not as much as when you lose. So, if you’re going to use a credit card, then you better be winning.

Some people have lost and decided not to play the game anymore, they cut up their credit cards and swear off credit forever. Depending on your lifestyle this may or may not work. In many cases, you need a credit card to rent cars, reserve hotel rooms, book flights and buy online.

Credit card issuers make it easy for you to lose the game. When you apply for their card, they ask you what your income is. Once they know they can trust you, they increase your credit limit beyond what they know you can afford to pay back each month. If you take the bait, they start lining their pockets with your hard earned money. If you carry a balance, you instantly lose the game — if you want to be a winner, be sure you pay your bill in full every month.

That’s the first step to winning. The second step is to switch your card to a high dividend credit (or debit) card. Dividend cards pay you a cash reward for using your card, usually 2-5% of how much you spend. This might not sound like a lot, but many people can make over $1000 per year with this. (more…)

May 24, 2010 at 5:00 am 15 comments

Rotten Eggs Float

Whether you throw away the carton and use the egg holder in your fridge or you just don’t believe the expiry date, there will come a time when you question the edibility of eggs.

There is an easy way to test them.

Fill a container with water and gently place the egg inside it. If it sinks, it’s good to eat. If it floats, throw it out. If it weighs the same as a duck, it’s a witch.

Why?

Eggs naturally have a small air pocket in them. In fact, a bright light is used during a process called candling to determine the size of this air cell. The size of the air cell is used to determine the grade of an egg. Grade AA eggs have the smallest air cell, and as the air cell gets large the egg is given a lower grade (A, B…etc).

This air cell increases as the egg ages. There are two schools of thought about why. Some say the eggshell is porous and allows some liquid to escape and air to enter. Others say a chemical reaction takes place inside, which results in the larger air chamber and the awful smell when they are rotten. I couldn’t find a definitive answer to why the air cell increases in size, but nobody disputed the fact that it does.

Because the air cell increases, it makes the egg less dense, meaning it will float in water with enough time.

The smell of rotten eggs is a popular description for the smell of sulfur. There’s good reason for that, eggs contain a fair amount of sulfur because it is necessary for feather formation. This smell becomes more prevalent as eggs age.

Thanks to my wife Kristen for this secret.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Source: Eggs WP, Sulfur WP, What’s Cooking America, O Chef

May 6, 2010 at 12:15 am 1 comment

Keeping Secrets Safe at Home

You probably have things in your home that you want to keep safe: cash, checks, credit cards, jewelry, computer data, documents and other valuables.

In case of fire or theft, the best place to put them is in a fireproof safe. This might sound like overkill, but affordable models start around $30.

Safes are an obvious place to put valuables, so you want a bolt-down model — thieves don’t usually have time to open a safe during a robbery but they’ll want to take it with them and open it later.

If you’re looking for a less obvious hiding place, there are many options. You can buy “diversion safes” that look like everyday objects such as: canned food, bleach, candles, books, clocks and many other items.

If you’re going to use one of these safes then you should store it with other similar items; it doesn’t work well if there is a can of fruit in your sock drawer.

The fake bleach container and candle are both good since there are many places you might find those in your house. The bleach container could make a good hiding spot for the spare key in your garage.

The other thing about these “safes” is that they’re not always that safe. For example, they’re not fireproof and they’re very easy to get into, but they can be useful for storing a bit of spare cash when thin-mint go on sale.

If you don’t want to buy a diversion safe, you can make your own. Pringles cans work well.

Sometimes, it just comes down to location. Reader’s Digest interviewed a number of convicted burglars to find out their secrets to successful home robberies and among other things, the robbers revealed that they rarely ever go into kids rooms. Simply putting stuff in your kids rooms may be secure enough, although you may never find it again either.

The same interviews revealed that robbers don’t go near your house if they see a flickering TV or hear a radio because that’s a sure sign that somebody is home. You can buy a small device that emulates a flickering TV and it’s much cheaper to buy and operate on a timer than a real TV.

Although these hiding places would be great for an Easter egg hunt, they shouldn’t be used for really valuable items. The best place for that stuff is in a proper safe, safety deposit box or federally insured instrument such as a bank account.

Broken Secrets | Written By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Reader’s Digest, Reader’s Digest, FakeTV.com

April 28, 2010 at 12:31 am Leave a comment

Extend the Life of Printer Ink Cartridges

If you’ve got an ink jet printer then you’re likely spending a lot of money on ink. Most of these printers use expensive and sophisticated ink cartridges. These cartridges monitor usage and estimate the amount of ink remaining. The estimate is usually conservative, meaning it indicates you are out of ink before you’re really out of ink.

Printer_Ink

If you reset this memory then you can keep printing until the cartridge is actually empty. Depending on the brand and model of cartridge, this reset is actually really easy. If you look above the small circuit board on the cartridge, there is sometimes a pinhole reset button, kind of like the paperclip eject hole on most cd rom drives.

Check out the following video to see a demonstration.

I should also note that not all cartridges can be reset in this way. Here are a couple of sites that show other methods of resetting some cartridges.

Doing a cartridge reset is also useful if you refill your own cartridges, since the cartridge may report that it’s empty even after you refill it. If you do a lot of color printing, you may consider generic cartridges or even a continuous ink system:

Continuous_Ink

I should also mention that laser printers have become extremely cheap. I rarely print in color, so a black and white laser printer is very cost effective for me. When I need to print photos, there are lots of drug stores or department stores that do a great job for a low price. If I need to print color documents, there are many great places to get that done at a reasonable price too. With a $100 laser printer, you’re often able to print thousands of pages of text on the toner cartridge that is included.

Big thanks to Derek Santos for sending the video and inspiring this post.

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April 16, 2010 at 12:28 am 25 comments

Keeping Headphones Untangled

Walking, flying, train and bus riding — these are some of the most inane, meaningless and repetitive activities that you may do. Many people do them everyday, even twice or more. Headphones, and the devices they’re connected to, make these activities more enjoyable, memorable and sometimes even meaningful.

I’ve spent my fair share of time commuting in planes, trains and automobiles, but few of these experiences were memorable. Even fewer were memorable in a good way. But, I’ll never forget the bus ride when I first listened to the song, “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie. I had played the song dozens of times before, but this was the first time I really listened to it. (more…)

April 7, 2010 at 11:32 pm 2 comments

How to Increase Shower Water Pressure

There is nothing worse than a low pressure shower. Actually, 1000AwesomeThings said it best, “Not much affects your day every day as much as a good shower.”

In a lot of cases, there is something you can do about it. For example, if a nearby faucet has good pressure then you can probably improve your shower pressure in about 5 minutes.

Modern shower heads contain a flow restriction plate to decrease the amount of water you consume, which saves you money and ensures the city can produce enough clean water for everyone. It’s basically a rubber or Teflon disc that has a small hole in it. The smaller the hole, the less water can travel through it and onto your head. If you want to know what that restrictor looks like, click here to see a 10 pack of them on amazon (great if you own a lot of showers and have a problem with too much pressure).

Sometimes, these flow restrictor get clogged with debris, which reduces the flow further. Other times, they’re too small for your home’s water pressure. In either case, you can remove the restrictor, clean it and put it back in. If it’s not dirty then it may be too restrictive for your water pressure. If that’s the case, you can leave it out entirely or drill the hole so it is slightly larger. (more…)

April 6, 2010 at 11:31 pm 7 comments

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