"I'm convinced that most of today's homeowners live in a perpetual state of anxiety. While school has taught us math, foreign languages, and computer sciences, most of us have no idea how our furnace, refrigerator, or even kitchen faucet works. This is an expensive omission in our educations."
"In metropolitan areas, the minimum charge for a plumber or appliance repairperson to come to your home is about $150. In fact repair services are now so expensive that the leading consumer magazine recommends replacing, rather than repairing, appliances over five years old. Why don't more people attempt simple repairs themselves?"
With this simple and straightforward beginning, I was hooked. When many of the household appliances and equipment that we use on a day-to-day basis appear to be too complicated to comprehend, we instead call Joe the Plumber for even simple problems. However, many appliances only give the APPEARANCE of being complicated because this is our knee-jerk assumption from not understanding how they work. Enter "How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding and Maintaining Your Home" by Dr. Charlie Wing. Inside you we see informative drawings of how your hydronic (i.e. piping), electrical, and HVAC (i.e. heating & cooling) systems work in your house as well as the appliances and equipment that connect into these systems such as sinks, water heaters, light switches, furnace filters, ceiling fans, and more. In addition, there are also sections on "Windows & Doors", "Foundation & Frame" (i.e. how your home is built structurally), "Outdoors" (which includes such items as 2- and 4-cycle motors, lawn mowers, and chain saws) and lastly "Toward Sustainability" (which gets into specifics about lowering your utility bills and living greener). All told, this book has just about all of the heavy use and high stress appliances and equipment in your home. It won't give you step-by-step instructions on how to replace an electrical switch, but it does give you simple to read, but very specific, explanations on the interior workings and wiring so that you will know the difference between when something is REALLY WRONG or when you just need to open the faceplate and retighten a wirenut.
As a mechanical engineer and a project manager for construction projects, I am quite versed about how things work around my home and office buildings. However, even I learned a thing or two by going through the very logical and easy-to-read approach that Dr. Wing has used in this book. I also have alot of experience with RS Means and their products - they are near the top (if not at it) in the world of construction estimation, pricing, and design tools and thus if this book has the R.S. Means name, you know that it is a quality product. The only negative comment I have is that I feel that the sections on your heating and cooling system in your house should be expanded. In my opinion, ones house being either too cold or too hot is a key area of homeowner complaints. As opposed to replacing a simple broken light fixture or fixing a leaky sink, by and large HVAC issues are one that almost all homeowners feel trapped by their inability to correct on their own.
This product should be on an easy-to-reach book shelf of every homeowner in America. There is no reason why anyone should be held hostage by the unnecessary ignorance (and lighter wallet) that comes from being unable understand the basic workings of a toilet or thermostat or wall socket.