Home Improvement

Home improvement is much easier when you are well-informed. Learn about home improvement, home safety and home maintenance.

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They keep the contents of your school locker safe. They secure precious documents and monetary instruments. Some of them can even take a bullet. Learn about what's going on inside combination locks.

By Robert Valdes

This set of articles includes explanations of lockpicking and safecracking, as well as the mechanical workings of many of the most common types of locks.

By Marshall Brain

People use safes to keep their valuables, well, safe. But in movies, thieves can open one using a little concentration and a good ear. Could you crack a safe that easily?

By Robert Valdes

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The metal used to construct buildings resists all sorts of damage, making it a very reliable material -- and very difficult to manipulate into the appropriate form. Enter the plasma cutter. Learn all about the amazing device that cuts through metal like a knife through warm butter.

By Robert Valdes

If you want a surefire way to improve the look, durability and value of your home, hardwood floors are the way to go. Besides being beautiful and hard-wearing, hardwood floors are environmentally friendly, too.

By Allison Klein

Think a swimming pool is just a big hole in the ground? Think again -- there's a whole lot of technology and chemistry that goes into building and maintaining a pool. Check it out.

By Tom Harris

While there's a good chance that your fire extinguisher will sit on the wall for years, collecting dust, it could end up saving your property and even your life. Learn the correct way to use an extinguisher and see what sort of fire suppressant works best on different types of fires.

By Tom Harris

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You probably don't spend too much time pondering the inner workings of a doorbell, but it's actually a pretty cool device once you get inside. Find out exactly what happens when someone rings your bell.

By Tom Harris

If you've ever missed the nail and hit your thumb with a hammer, you understand the draw of a nail gun. And the raw power is a nice perk too. Some nail guns can launch nails at 1,400 feet per second.

By Tom Harris

The super of our apartment building is always going into everyone's apartment when something needs to be fixed. There must be a hundred apartments, but he only carries one key around with him. How does he get into all those apartments?

Super glue definitely deserves its name -- a 1-square-inch bond can hold more than a ton. So, what if find yourself in a super-sticky situation?

By Katherine Neer

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The Downy fabric-softener ball has to be one of the simplest inventions ever. Learn how this fabric-softener ball uses Newton's first law of motion with the help of this article.

Patented in 1934, this electrically-charged invention has made a big difference for modern day picnic-goers. But in recent years it's come under scrutiny, as scientists began to question its effectiveness.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

How do spray bottles (like the ones used for cleaning products) pump fluid? Why do you have to pump them a couple of times before they start spraying? Find out the answers to these questions with this helpful article.

Historically, "barn red" is not the bright, fire-engine red that we often see today, but more of a burnt-orange red. How did rural American barns suddenly turn crimson?

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In movies, burglars can open a lock using a paper clip. Is it really so easy? The basic process of picking a lock is simple, but it takes practice to get it right.

By Marshall Brain & Tom Harris

Americans generate over 200 million tons of trash each year: Trash may be the most abundant product of our lives. Want to put some of it to work? Composting creates a natural fertilizer and saves landfill space.

By Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

With energy bills on the rise, homeowners are looking for new ways to use less power around the house. A cutting-edge window technology called the "smart window" allows consumers to fully or partially block light by turning a knob or pressing a button.

By Kevin Bonsor

Have you ever noticed that in most all homes, the entry doors open inward, but in most public buildings, the entry doors open outward. Why is this? Read this article to find out.

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Security systems can range from do-it-yourself kits for $10 to sophisticated whole-house networks installed by professionals. But most alarm systems are actually built around the same basic design concepts.

By Tom Harris

I have several smoke detectors in my house, and recently the battery went dead on one of them. It started chirping, so I took the battery out, only to have the others complain about it. My question is, how do all of the smoke detectors talk to one an

Most of us don't think about what's going on inside a copier while we wait for it to shoot out the copies. Find out how, in mere seconds, you can produce an exact replica of what's on a sheet of paper!

By Ann Meeker-O'Connell

Towels are always made of cotton, and they work really well at absorbing water. On the other hand, water-repellant jackets are made of nylon, and they work pretty well at keeping you dry. Why is cotton more absorbent than nylon?

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A friend told me that the bad smell coming from my toilet indicates that the seal under the toilet is broken and needs to be replaced. He also said that I could probably do the job myself. I'd like to try.

In places where uranium is common in the soil, radon is a popular topic of discussion. Even though radon is "completely natural," it can be a real health hazard. Learn how radon forms and why it is so dangerous.

By Marshall Brain & Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.