Seniors Helping Seniors

Hall of Wisdom

One of the benefits of volunteering your time helping other seniors is working with like-minded fellow volunteers.  We come from all walks of life and apply acquired skills to the tasks at hand.  Each weekly assignment brings new opportunities and challenges.  It has been said that no one has a monopoly on good ideas.  Therefore, it is not unusual that you’ll learn something new while working with different team members on projects.  And sometimes they are real time-savers!  So, since we’re at an age where we often forget more than what we learn, this Hall of Wisdom is an attempt to capture some of those good ideas before they are lost!

We suggest that the next time your Team assignment includes something you’ve never tackled before, pull up this Hall of Wisdom and check if this list includes solutions to problems you may face on Friday.  Similarly, if you are stumped on the job, pull up this Hall of Wisdom on your smart phone and see if it offers suggestions you had not yet considered.   We’re hoping that, if you have good time-saving solutions, you’ll document them so we can add them to the list!

Forms and Specifications

  • Saving time on Friday morning:
    When you receive your assignments on Thursday afternoon, use your PC or Mac to fill out any New Client Release Forms you may need on Friday.  This form is a “fillable PDF” so no need to download it.  Just display the form on your screen and fill out the name, address, and date fields.  Print the form on your printer – CTRL-P on PC/CMD-P on Mac – and bring to the meeting.
  • POH Brochure:  You can print your own copies of the new brochure.
  • City of Plano Property Standards:  Tree Limbs and Branches
  • USPS: Guidelines for Installing Curbside Mailbox


  • Smoke Detectors: Each year we change a lot of batteries on smoke detectors. Most of these units are of the ionization type. Next time you do this please check the manufacturing date marked on the base of the unit. Kidde, one of the largest manufacturers, does not guarantee their sensors beyond 10 years. They recommend replacing units older than 10 years.

Replacing units: You should replace old smoke alarms with Photoelectric Smoke Alarms, not Ionization Smoke Alarms. We recently installed new photoelectric smoke alarms at a client’s duplex who had experienced over 30 minutes of dense smoke and her ionization alarms did not go off. Before replacing her units, we tested her alarms with a test spray and they worked correctly and loudly.Wikipedia has a good reference article  and reports that “A 2004 NIST report concluded that “Smoke alarms of either the ionization type or the photoelectric type consistently provided time for occupants to escape from most residential fires,” and,
“Consistent with prior findings, ionization type alarms provided somewhat better response to flaming fires than photoelectric alarms (57 to 62 seconds faster response), and photoelectric alarms provided (often) considerably faster response to smoldering fires than ionization type alarms (47 to 53 minutes faster response).”  This long response time was confirmed by the POH client!

Look under the Legislation section of this article to see how Australia is implementing a policy of Photoelectric Smoke Alarms only. The city of Albany, CA, and some cities in Ohio apparently are implementing that same strategy. The article further suggests NOT to install dual technology units, i.e., ionization and photoelectric sensors in one unit. Most likely reason is that such units will have smaller sensors and are therefore less sensitive than single technology alarms.
Bottom line: Replace old smoke alarms only with Photoelectric Smoke Alarms!

Steve Belson, Sep 2016
Updated by Herman van Beek, Oct 2017

  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors:  These units should be mounted within 5 feet of the floor, but not
    • In close proximity to any fuel-burning appliance.
    • In excessively humid areas such as your bathroom.
    • In direct sunlight.
    • Near any sources of blowing air such as a fan, vent or open window.
  • Chain Saws and Pole Saws:
    First Step:  Fill with oil!
    Last Step: Drain oil back into bottle!
    Our chain and pole saws all have a gravity oil feed system.  You’ll have a puddle of oil if you don’t drain the oil after use!

Safety Interlock: To turn ON your saw, you must first PRESS and HOLD the button next to the trigger, and then PULL the trigger.  It is a right-handed system so, even if you are left-handed, use your right thumb to depress button and then wrap hand around trigger to start saw.  Be careful, that chain is very sharp!!!

  • Sliding Exterior Glass Door Rollers: Replacing exterior sliding glass door rollers involves removing a heavy door and possibly dismantling the frame. The door area may have to stay open for an extended time. One option which doesn’t require door removal is the installation of plastic glides and strips. Existing rollers are retracted, not removed. Information is available at I’ve been using for about five years with no issues.

Bill Devitt, Oct 2017


Bill Downs, Jan 2016

  • Faucet Parts: Teter’s Faucet Parts in Dallas has the largest inventory of special faucet parts.  The next time you can’t find your part at Home Depot, Lowes, or Elliotts, take a picture of the part with your cell phone, including a ruler, and text it to Teter’s (214-549-2525).  They usually respond back to your phone within a few minutes with availability and cost.

Elliotts, Dec 2016

  • Braided stainless steel faucet and toilet hose fittings:
    Plumbing projects often involve tightening compression fittings.  The common unknown is how tight should they be.
    Regarding the braided stainless steel faucet and toilet hose fittings with the rubber cone washer, the suggested approach is this:
    Hand tighten as far as you can. Then with a wrench do one quarter turn more.
    Turn on the water and tighten just enough to stop any drip. Usually there will not be any drip.
    Over tightening cuts the rubber cone causing water loss and hose replacement.

Dwaine Finseth, Mar 2017


  • The client complains about an open/broken/dead circuit and the fuse box shows no fuse problems.  Check and see if there are  any GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) sockets in use.  If yes, there may be multiple GFCI sockets in each bathroom or utility room.  These are typically wired on the same circuit and are therefore in series – if one blows, all sockets downstream from it will be open/dead as well!  Reset every GFCI socket you find.

Bill Kwoka, Dec 2016






  • Change an Electric Dryer Cord from a 3-Prong to a 4-Prong Outlet

Due to changes in the National Electrical Code (NEC), wiring for electric clothes dryers changed somewhat around the year 2000. Before the change, dryers used 3-prong cords that plugged into 3-slot electrical outlets (receptacles). Since the change, dryers use 4-prong cords for 4-slot outlets. Newly installed dryer receptacles must be 4-slot. However, it’s still legal to use a dryer with a 3-prong cord and an older-style receptacle. If you have a newer dryer set up for a 4-prong cord, you can replace the cord with a 3-prong version that fits your 3-slot receptacle. Here is a link to an excellent article that covers that conversion in detail.

Herman van Beek, May 2017