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Experts Goofed Up Advice

August 25, 1990

I enjoy reading your "Ask the Handyman" column very much. Sorry to say, there are a couple of goofs in the Aug. 4 edition that bear comment.

In the item about the six-outlet adapter, Don Jordan of Jordan Hardware was quoted as saying, "Once you turn all six of those things on, you'll overload the circuit." WRONG. One could have thousands of neon lights plugged in, or hundreds of electric clocks, or dozens of 25-watt light bulbs. The criterion is the total load on that particular circuit.

As long as it is under 15 or 20 amperes including power factor (unless you know for sure, presume 15 for safety), the number of outlets or cords or appliances is meaningless. Right now in the den in which I am writing this letter, I have my entertainment center plugged into one wall outlet with 17 active outlets daisy-chained from it. But the maximum total load on that wall outlet is under 500 watts, the total load on that circuit is well under 15 amps, my extensions are all new, are protected from physical damage, are rated at 15 amps although they only carry up to four, and thus the setup is perfectly safe. I use many of the six-outlet adapters.

Next, Ames Kergesian of Buena Park Lumber said, in reference to the water-to-cement ratio for mixing concrete: "There is no perfect consistency. The thinner the mixture, the slower it's going to set." WRONG. Setting time is normally of no real significance whatever. However, the final strength of the concrete, which is usually very significant, varies roughly as the inverse of the amount of water used in the mix. Always use the absolute minimum of water you can get by with on any particular job. The ideal mix is one so stiff it must be pounded into place. If it must be poured, use the least amount of water that will still allow it to flow. I know commercial operators usually use soupy mixes, but their chief aim in life is to pour quickly.

JOHN HAMAKER

Laguna Niguel

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