Show Notes: If You Give a Goldfish a Flush… – On the House

Show Notes: If You Give a Goldfish a Flush…

By on July 13, 2019

Flushed Away might be a fun movie, but it’s certainly not a way to go about life! Much like if you give a mouse a cookie, flushing your goldfish has some consequences.

But on a grander scale than a mouse sticking around your house!

The Carey Brothers discuss this and a few other things like

  • Why you should still go see open houses regardless of if you’re selling your own home!
  • How to know whether your electrical system needs some attention… but not by you, unless you’re an electrician!
  • Some things you might be doing that are not good for your home
  • TONS of questions from listeners like you! Got a question, give us a call (or send us a text) at 1-800-737-2474!

What Happens When You Flush a Goldfish Down the Toilet?  


It sounds like the most outrageous of urban myths: When you flush a goldfish down the toilet it survives and becomes an enormous super fish in the wild. But this is no myth! And in fact, it’s a huge problem. The goldfish are taking over. A 14-inch goldfish caught in the Niagara River is your answer.  

Goldfish can survive year-round in our watershed and can destroy the habitat of native fish. Scientists estimate that tens of millions of Goldfish now live in the Great Lakes. If you cannot keep your pet, please return it to the store instead of flushing or releasing it. 

The best rule of thumb is to flush only two things down the toilet: Toilet paper and things that come from your body, to put it delicately. That means no household chemicals, feminine products, wipes, cat litter, medications, et cetera. Even products that promise they are flushable should not be flushed. 

And especially, don’t flush your fish! 



4 Reasons Why You Should Still go to Open Houses (Even if You’re NOT Looking to Move!) 

Open Houses Are Better Than Pinterest 

We can lust after décor ideas on Pinterest all day long, but that’s a long way from knowing what something would look like in our own homes. Walking through a home that shares a time period and/or architectural details with your own is like a real live spin through a Pinterest board.  

Say you’ve been dreaming of painting your walls the inky dark blue that’s sweeping Pinterest (or is it really?) but you’re just not sure how it will look in your house, he says. I love the red walls we inherited in our living room, but when Brent walked me into a house with a similar layout, size, and build date with gorgeous, deep blue walls in the living room I was in love. The only thing that could have made it a better trial was if the windows faced the same direction as mine, but still. You can’t walk into a room on Pinterest. 

 Speaking of Pinterest, check out ours! 

You Learn What NOT to Do 

Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but you can avoid making Very Bad Decisions that are hard to see when they’re right in front of you much more easily by taking note of what someone else has done. We walked through one house with a very curious bathroom configuration that meant you had to open two doors in order to wash your hands after the toilet. Whoever made that decision probably had valid reasons or old house challenges that made it seem like a good idea at the time, but it was quite clear to us what an awful idea that is.

We also saw a door to nowhere that seemed exceedingly unsafe, and a third floor completely set up as a separate apartment – but with no outside or separate access, basically leaving it unusable as an apartment or short term rental. If you’re thinking of a major change, say taking down a wall or converting a bedroom to a bathroom, other people’s houses are full of cautionary tales that we can keep in mind when we’re making those big decisions. 

You Get a Reality Price Check 

We put so much love and work into our houses, we may (just may) tend to over-inflate their value in our minds. Visiting a house that’s similar to yours is a great way to adjust those expectations. Say all things are equal between your house and the one you’re visiting, Brent says, but you have dated formica counters in the kitchen and they have granite. Their house is listed (and later sells) at a lower price than you think yours would fetch. Looks like you may need a reality check 

 Read some more On The House Do’s and Don’ts over here!

Does Your Electrical System Need Updating? 

 electrical wiring

  1. Should I update my electrical system?

Your home’s electrical system is similar to your body’s circulatory system. Your electrical panel is the heart of your electrical system. The circuits that carry electricity to all the plugs, lights and appliances in your home are like your veins and arteries. 

Your panel determines how much power is available for the circuits to distribute to all the appliances, lights and outlets in your home. 

If you need more information about how not to overload the electrical circuit, read more here.

The number and size of the circuit breakers determine how that power is distributed throughout your home. 

The first and most important step in updating your electrical system is to: 
  • Upgrade your panel (bringing more power from the utility to your home); or
  • Replace the existing meter and circuit breaker box to allow it to handle more power; or
  • Replace an electrical panel or circuit breakers that are obsolete, damaged or dangerous.

This doesn’t affect the wiring inside your home; it just gives your system the ability to have more power to distribute. 

The second part is to add additional circuits to distribute the power to your rooms and appliances. Updates also often include adding new electrical outlets and replacing the old receptacles.

Cost to Replace a Circuit Breaker Box 

Replacing an old circuit breaker box merits the expense for a number of reasons. 

  1. Why should electrical panels in older homes be updated?

The most important reason to update your home’s electrical system is safety. When many older homes were built, they were designed with only 30, 50 or 60 amps for the entire home, using just a few circuits. 

A circuit consists of all the outlets linked on one wire operated by a single fuse or circuit breaker. Circuit breakers protect your home by tripping and turning off when the wire running from your electrical panel to your appliances or devices becomes overloaded and in danger of becoming hot and catching fire. 

Unfortunately, in many older electrical systems, the circuit breakers don’t trip, even when the circuit is overloaded. Typically, a breaker will not trip due to a loose connection somewhere within the circuit. 

Sometimes a homeowner gets tired of the circuit breaker tripping, and unknowingly adds to the danger by replacing it with a larger circuit breaker than the wire is rated to carry. 

To protect people from an overload, or the danger of electrocution and shock, safety devices such as ground fault circuit interrupters are now installed. 


  1. How do you know if it’s time to update your electrical panel?

Here are some symptoms that indicate your system is in need of an upgrade: 

  • Circuit breakers trip frequently.
  • Your lights dim when you turn on other appliances.
  • You have to use extension cords or adapters to create additional electric outlets for your home.

Circuit breaker panels have a life span of 25-40 years. If yours is older than that; if it’s in poor condition; or if it’s old and has only a few circuits, and your breakers DO NOT trip … those can be danger signs as well. 

Also: If you are adding high power-consumption appliances such as an air conditioner or a spa, it’s likely that your system will need an upgrade to accommodate the additional demand. 

 Can I upgrade my electrical system as a DIY project? 

Electricity is NOT a good candidate for a DIY project. Amateur or DIY wiring is not only dangerous but can be far more costly to repair in the future. 


Things to Never, Ever, Ever Do To Your House  

Put Starchy Food Down the Disposal 

Today’s garbage disposals can handle more challenging foods than earlier models, but starchy comestibles like potatoes, rice, and oatmeal still stump them. 

Fun fact: Every Halloween, plumbers see an increase in calls because people are dumping pumpkin guts into the disposal. 

Starchy foods clump when they hit water, clogging disposals and pipes. Instead, put them in the garbage can or, even better, your compost pile. 


Plant a Tree Close to Your House 

 That young sapling just a few feet from your door seems so harmless. Until it grows up. 

 In addition to the risk of falling limbs, tree roots from mature trees can weaken your home’s foundation and clog plumbing and sewer pipes. 

 Plant medium and large trees at least 30 to 50 feet from the house. Put small trees (30 feet tall or less) at least eight, preferably 10, feet away. 


Cover Wallpaper with Water-based Paint 

 You don’t have to remove that dated wallpaper – simply paint over it. Just don’t do it with water-based paint. It can reactivate wallpaper glue and cause the paper to peel. Instead, use oil-based primer, let it dry completely, and then apply latex paint over it. Oil-based primer has long been the industry standard and works well with oil and latex paints. 


Let Ceiling Fans Run Forever 

 Ceiling fans don’t decrease the temperature in a room; they increase how quickly your sweat evaporates, making you feel cooler. 

Since it’s only beneficial to run ceiling fans when people are in the rooms to enjoy their breeze, save money by turning them off when you’re out. 


Pour Bleach or Drain Cleaner Down Pipes 

Bleach seems like a great agent for keeping pipes unclogged and smelling fresh — and drain cleaner is literally for pipes, right? 

Unfortunately, bleach can react with substances in your pipes and cause more clogs than it prevents. Even drain cleaner is rough on pipes — and both are environmentally awful. (Plus, as little as a teaspoon of drain cleaner can destroy a septic field.) 

Instead, use a pipe snake (also known as an auger) to keep pipes running smoothly. 


Water Grass at Night 

It may seem smart to water in the evening – especially if you have a sprinkler system, because electrical rates are lower. But without sun to evaporate it, water is more likely to cling to grass at night, promoting fungus. Instead, water in the morning when the air is cool, the sun is arriving, and there’s less wind than midday. 


Clean Windows on a Sunny Day 

 Doesn’t a warm, sunny day seem like the perfect time to wash windows? Counter-intuitively, it’s the worst because the sun dries windows too quickly and causes smears. Instead, save this chore for a cloudy day. 


Are you a San Francisco Bay Area listener? Here are some notes for you:

To Do’s Before the Next Earthquake  

With the West Coast on notice of earthquakes, it seems an appropriate time to discuss preparing your home for such an event. 

 If you have a modern home, built in the last 40 years or so, your house should be built to at least some version of a seismic code and should be better prepared to resist catastrophic failure than an older house. However, as you will learn, even owners of modern homes can make their homes safer. 

If you have an older home, I would consider performing some amount of seismic retrofitting work. Generally, the older the home, the less it was designed to resist the forces of a seismic event. 

This article will discuss basics about seismic codes, what you can look for on your own house and give you a few practical tips on how to prepare for The Big One. 

How to Prepare Your Home for an Earthquake 

Below is a short list of seismic design features you can check for on your house. Remember that comprehensive seismic designs are complex; you can quickly find yourself in a gray area regarding how far to go in seismically retrofitting your house. This article is just a brief overview. If you are interested in more detailed information, I recommend consulting with a local contractor who specializes in seismic retrofitting.

The Homebuilder’s Guide to Earthquake Resistant Design and Construction is also a great resource and is available for free on-line 

  •  Make sure your water heater is strapped explaining how to check it. If your water heater is knocked down it can create water damage and a serious safety hazard with scalding water and disconnected electric or gas lines.  
  •  Install an earthquake gas shut off valve for your gas meter to protect against gas leaks when pipelines rupture. 
  •  If you have a propane tank, make sure it has some type of restraint or anchoring systemIt will protect your tank from falling over and causing an explosion. 
  •  Install positive connectors at the joints where posts meet beams and beams meet footings. This is often very inexpensive (the low-hanging fruit of retrofitting) and can greatly strengthen the house. Homes built in the last 25 years will have this, as it is part of modern code. The Eichler Network offers more information on seismic retrofitting. 
  •  Connect the wood frame of your house to the foundation so the house will not be thrown off the foundation. This is typically done with lag bolts and washers but there are also some neat metal plates that can be used for retrofitting.  
  •  If you have exposed pony walls (the short wood framed walls between your foundation and the floor joists on your first floor), put plywood between the studs to strengthen the wall.  
  •  If you have a post and pier, masonry block, stone or brick foundation, consult with a qualified contractor about options for strengthening the foundation. One great option is installing a redundant post and beam system adjacent to a humble foundation, creating a wooden backup support structure in case the old foundation fails. 

 Lots of people ask about generators.

If you want a reliable generator system to help you after a severe earthquake, consider propane as a fuel source with your own tank.

Here are three reasons: 

  1. It is easier to store propane than gas because gasoline goes bad quickly. 
  2. It is physically hard and dangerous to have too many gasoline cans around your house. 
  3. The natural gas lines will likely be disrupted. 

What to Have on Hand to Be Prepared 

  • Flashlights and fresh batteries 
  • A battery operated radio 
  • At least two weeks food and water. According to the World Health Organization, short term survival requires a minimum of ½ gallon of water per day, per person. For a family of four this would be 28 gallons…. Yes, that’s almost six, five-gallon buckets! 
  • Be sure you have some back-up means of preparing your food. Assume that electricity and gas will both be off. Camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags and stoves make great back-up survival equipment. 

 Learn more about earthquake preparedness at RedFin or read more at one of our archived shows here.

You may want to add an earthquake alert  and emergency preparedness apps to your cell phone: 

Apple – QuakeFeed Earthquake Alerts 4+ 
Earthquake Info Map & News 

By Artisan Global LLC – free 


Emergency – American Red Cross 


Earthquake: American Red Cross 4+ 

American Red Cross 


5 Ways to Fake Natural Light When You Really Don’t Have It 

Good lightingis essential to creating an inviting space—and there’s no better light to bask in than sunlight. But what to do when your apartment or home is lacking in the south-facing window department? Don’t worry! There’s hope to be had. We did a little digging and discovered a handful of ways to create the illusion of more natural light in your home, from mirrors to houseplants. 

Stock Up on Mirrors 

Did you know that adding mirrors to the wall across from your natural light-receiving windows will help bounce the light around a room? Take it one step further and opt for furniture and decor pieces with mirrored surfaces to maximize the amount of natural light being reflected in your space. 

Avoid Dark Tones 

Dark tones absorb more heat and light than lighter colored ones. That’s why filling an already dim space with darkly colored furnishings and textiles will actually make it seem darker. So before you paint your windowless room a deep shade of gray, consider a lighter hue like bright white or eggshell that will reflect more light around the room. 

Gloss Up Your Surfaces 

A little gloss goes a long way when faking natural light at home. Add a fresh coat of gloss to your walls, ceiling, and floors (if possible) to help bounce the light you do have around the room, and invest in decor items with glossy finishes to give the impression you have more light in your home than you really do. 

Employ Artificial Light 

Artificial lighting is still essential in any room, especially ones that lack a lot of natural light. Addfull-spectrum light bulbs(they’re designed to simulate daylight) to the light fixtures in rooms with poor lighting to quickly brighten up your home with some soft but warm artificial light.   

Add Greenery 

When all else fails, you can always count onhouseplantsto help you compensate for a lack of natural light in a room. Bring a few low light-tolerant plants, like ferns or spider plants, into a room with little-to-no-natural light to usher in some ethereal vibesandkeep the air clean. 

Mentioned Links

Thank you~ 

A very special thank you to all of our callers! We live to answer your questions, so keep them coming! 

Thank you to our Technical Support: 

  • Danny Bringer – Chief Engineer 
  • Carol “Remodeling Babe” Carey – Executive Producer 
  • Sam Reed – Associate Producer 
  • Rico Figliolini – Digital Master

Thank you for not flushing your goldfish! And check in next week for more cool tips! 

“If You Give a Goldfish a Flush” Show Notes for On The House with the Carey Brothers aired July 13, 2019. 

Missed our live show? Don’t worry! Because we have a podcast of the show. It’s the same thing we aired on the radio, but ready for you whenever and wherever you are! Check it out here. 


@careybros #homeimprovement #diy #radio #onthehousewiththecareybrothers #goldfish #dontflushyourfish #openhouse #notmoving #electricupdates #electricity #yourhouse

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