Garden hose

Don’t buy garden hoses with aluminum fittings — generally silver colored instead of brass.  These fittings will corrode and seize to your hose nozzles, sprinklers, and faucets.  They then have to be cut off and generally ruin the mating part.  Existing hoses can be salvaged by cutting off the aluminum fittings and installing brass fittings available from any hardware store.

Also, try to avoid aluminum in electrical fittings and switches.  The aluminum eventually forms a surface oxide layer that causes open and/or intermittent circuits and, in some cases, fires.  Years ago there was a brief effort to use aluminum wire in residential wiring before the fire hazard was recognized.  It is hard to avoid aluminum in cheap lamp sockets but the effort will be worth it.  As a couple of personal examples: our son kept fighting an intermittent ceiling light — replacing bulbs, switch, and breaker — until I swapped out the old aluminum lamp socket.  At another time, my garage door manual button stopped working — the remotes worked fine.  This was eventually traced to the use by the manufacturer of an aluminum washer under a terminal riveted to a circuit board.  There was no visible corrosion, just an invisible oxide layer that formed under the rivet head.  A bit of solder bridging over the washer from the terminal to the board cured the problem.

Aluminum is great for cookware and airplanes.  Not so much for water fittings or electrical connections.


P.S.  Since I posted this the Chinese have noticed people catching on and they are now coloring their aluminum and zinc hose fittings to look like brass.  The solid brass fittings should say so.  Any weasel words like brass color, brass filled, or brass plated should raise a red flag.  Generally brass fittings are machined compared to plated zinc which is usually molded.  Brass is over 3 time heavier than aluminum.  You can tell the difference as aluminum just feels lighter.  Brass is only 20% heavier than zinc but you can usually tell zinc by the mold marks.  If you have a scale you can use it to determine the density (specific gravity), and thus material of a fitting:

Material Specific density g/cc

Aluminum 2.7

Brass 8.5

Steel (stainless) 7.9

Zinc 7.1

Fungus and mildew and mold, oh my!

Each time you take a shower or a hot bath, the air in your bathroom warms up several degrees and its humidity approaches 100% — excellent conditions for growing things.  You can see the effect of  humidity in the fogged mirrors and the damp feel in the room.   To help with this, run your bathroom vent fan for 30 to 45 minutes after bathing with the bathroom door pulled almost closed to keep the damp air in the bathroom until it is exhausted by the vent fan but not completely shut to provide a path for cool dry air drawn from the rest of the house.  This will help clear the mirror too.  You can get an inexpensive humidity gauge from the hardware store to track the change from high back to normal humidity to know how long to run your fan.  If you have screw base vanity lights, going back to incandescents in the bathroom will help too — leave them on with the fan.  If you’ve been fighting mold in the bathroom, this will improve the situation.