Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Simple Door Adjustments

Doors swell and start rubbing on the jamb for various reasons. Foundations settle, wood framing members twist, bow and absorb moisture and walls rack out of plumb sometimes due to earthquakes. But the primary cause is due to the fact that the top or bottom of the door was not sealed during the painting process. This allows moisture to enter the wood frame from the inside, expanding the door and causing it to rub or even get completely stuck in extreme circumstances.
Sometimes the fix can be relatively simple. If the latch side of the door is rubbing, try this:
  1. If the top side, latch side of the door is rubbing, remove the top hinge pin. If the bottom side, latch side of the door is rubbing, remove the bottom hinge pin. Only remove one hinge pin at a time.
  2. Using a crescent wrench, tighten it around each ear of the hinge that is attached to the door. One at a time, bend each ear slightly (about 1/8”) in the direction of the lock side of the door. Be careful not to bend the ears too much as this can cause the door to become hinge bound – now rubbing on the hinge side of the jamb. After bending each ear, re-insert the hinge pin and operate the door. You may be surprised at how easy it was to fix the problem.
  3. If  the hinge side of the door is rubbing, just reverse the direction in which you are bending the hinge ears.
  4. Add a little lubricant to the hinges and you are done.

Of course sometimes the door will be rubbing at the top of the jamb. In this case, your only alternative is to plane the top of the door. If you are trying to avoid the use of power tools, you can try a sure form rasp or hand planer. Just plane the door a little at a time and then try it until it no longer rubs. Take your time. You don’t want to get in a hurry and plane too much at one time. The door may now close but the fit will look terrible.
After the problem has been resolved, don’t forget to seal the top and bottom of the door with a quality paint. Although you will have to use a drop cloth, there are many creative applicators available that will allow you to apply the sealer without having to remove the door.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Home Inspection

Home Inspection

You are contemplating a purchase of a foreclosed property and want to make sure that the price is right. Realizing that there will be a certain amount of investment that needs to be made in order to bring the home up to your standards, you decide to schedule a home inspection. But who can you trust to give a complete and unbiased report on your prospective new home? Whether it’s an investment property or a home that is to be occupied by your family, you want to have confidence and peace of mind. If you do a search of qualified inspectors or companies, you will find many who are supposedly certified. But who are they certified by? There are numerous online schools and agencies that will certify just about anyone who is willing to pay the tuition or the certification fee.
These schools are very professional and do provide valuable knowledge to their students but the best qualification comes from the experience gained from being in the construction industry for many years. After all, how can someone that has recently been certified by an online school possibly have better credentials than a seasoned veteran of the construction industry that has 40 years of field experience?
Don’t just hire a certified home inspector by thumbing through the yellow pages or conducting an online search. Do some homework and look for a qualified inspector. By qualified that doesn’t mean that they have to be certified. For example, in the state of California there is no requirement for a home inspector to be certified. Although this certification may add to the credentials of a home inspector which in turn may enhance his business prospects, that doesn’t always mean that he will provide the best service. Although some home inspectors do have bonafide field experience, many have limited experience if any. Instead their credentials simply consist of the certification
that has been obtained through some online study course. In other words, they have simply bought their certification. What does this do for you? Sure you will receive a report that seems official but is it a complete review of the property in question?
When choosing an inspector, it is important to thoroughly review their entire scope of work. In other words, what does their inspection consist of? You will notice that some scopes call for only a certain percentage of electrical outlets or plumbing fixtures to be tested. What good is this? What about the one room with the electrical problems that failed to be tested? What about the one sink that leaks? Or the part in the scope stating that the inspector will not walk on the roof but instead will only inspect it from ground level? Are you kidding me? What part of the roof can you inspect from ground level? It goes on and on but the point is that you really have to read the scope of work to know what value you will receive from your home inspection. Always check the true qualifications of your home inspector. Don’t just rely on a certification. You may be disappointed only to find out when it is too late.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Preventing Dryer Fires

It’s been all over the media lately. News articles and television reporting have alerted us to the danger of dryer vent fires. The cause of these fires is usually lint that has built up over time and caused a blockage of the dryer vent. As clothes are dried, the moisture is displaced out of the clothes and into the vent where it mixes with dry lint and forms a paper mache like material. It then dries to form a hard blockage in the vent pipe which will not allow the hot air to escape. At this point, the blockage creates back pressure and overheats the dryer vent which causes the fire hazard. It is one of those things that is out of sight, out of mind until it happens. There are subtle hints that it is time for dryer vent inspection, cleaning and maintenance but unless you are aware enough to notice that the clothes are taking longer to dry or that your dryer seems hotter to the touch, you will probably miss the early warning signs. That is why it is so important to develop a regular maintenance schedule.

  • Inspect and clean the lint filter of your dryer before each and every use.
  • Post a small sign in the laundry room so that you won’t forget.
  • Schedule  inspections, cleaning and maintenance of the complete dryer vent system once a year.
  • Make sure that the dryer vent system maintenance is done by a qualified professional.
    You will have peace of mind knowing that the job was done right.
Also be aware that sometimes excess lint buildup is caused by the inferior design and installation of the dryer vent system. Long vent runs, vertical vents and vent systems with too many bends can create an unusual hardship on the efficiency of your dryer. Many times these systems require a blower assist fan to help solve the problem. The blower assist fan is a fairly simple installation that is located in the attic of your home. While the fan can be an added expense, it will be well worth it. When your dryer is operating at peak performance, it will use less energy. You will save money and recuperate the cost of the fan in no time.

Remember, with a little effort and by following the above suggestions, you will have  peace of mind knowing that you and your family are safe from dryer vent fires.
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Friday, September 28, 2012

Finishing your patch

Finishing the patch can be somewhat tedious and time consuming but certain steps just have to be followed in order to reach the final goal of completing a quality patch that blends in with the surrounding area.

Whether the patch is big or small, the first step in the finishing operation is to tape the joints. If you are in a hurry and the patch is relatively small, a fast setting compound can be used. Using a 20-minute mud for example will allow you to move on to the next step quicker and shorten the total time necessary to complete the job. Mix only what you will use up within 20 minutes. If you have the time to allow for drying between coats, an all-purpose compound works best. It will allow you to take your time without worrying about the material drying up too fast during the application process. It is also easier to sand.

The type of tape being used is also selective. There are paper tapes as well as self-sticking open mesh. The difference is cost and ease of application.

Using a 6” wide putty knife, spread the taping compound over the joint and then imbed the paper tape by applying pressure with the knife blade. Do each joint separately, overlapping the tape slightly. If using the self-sticking tape, apply it to the wall first and then apply the compound directly over the top of it. Spread the material over the tape as smoothly as possible taking special care to completely cover the tape but not too thick. Try to keep the edges of the compound flush with the surrounding area. This will help to cut down on the sanding time between coats. After all joints are coated, let the patch cure overnight. Next, lightly sand the patch being careful not to sand so deep that the tape gets torn. At this point, you can switch over to the 20-minute compound for your second and third coats or continue on with the all-purpose compound allowing 24 hours between each coat. Use a 12” putty knife for the second and third coats. Center the knife blade on the joints and feather the edges as you go. Sand between coats and apply the compound as smoothly as possible. After the final coat has dried, lightly sand the main body of the patch. Now check the edges until smooth blending into the surrounding area. Check for small imperfections as you go and touch up as needed.

Now you are ready to apply the texture. There are many different texturing tools on the market, but a favorite for small jobs has to be the electric texture gun. It is light, easy to use and easy to clean. Pre mixed texture compound works best. It is more expensive than powder but it is cleaner with no lumps and won’t  jam your texture gun. Always mix the texture and try a sample on a scrap piece of drywall. Thin the mix or change the texture gun’s tip  until you are happy with the result. Then move on to your patch. Allow the texture to dry overnight and then lightly blade over the patch with a 6”-12” putty knife. It is very important to do this before painting as it will remove rough spots and will help to blend the patch into the surrounding areas.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Drywall patching can be fairly simple. The trick is to take your time making sure each step is as close to perfect as possible. This way, you will be pleased with the final result.

Any part of the process that is ignored can cause problems with the next step finally leading to a poor outcome. Always use a drop cloth below your working area to catch any falling debris. Not only will this protect your flooring but will make cleanup alot easier too.

Small patches – Depending on the size of the patch, you may have to remove the surrounding material in order to expose a sound surface. If the patch is relatively small, you may be able to just scrape off the loose material surrounding the repair and then just fill it with a patching compound of your choice. There are many products on the market but I prefer lightweight. It is easy to use, doesn’t shrink and easy to sand. The main thing to keep in mind is to keep the patch as small as possible. This is especially important when patching holes caused by picture hanger nails or screws. If the patches are too big, you will be left with a horrible looking wall after it is painted. First remove any loose material. When left behind, fuzz, drywall paper, old spackle or paint chips can effect the final outcome. Next apply the patching compound. Remember to keep the patch as small as possible. This can be accomplished by using a very small putty knife. And now the most important part of the process. Using your thumb, wipe off the excess patching material surrounding the  hole. This will keep your patches small and less noticeable after painting.

Large patches – Using a level, outline the area with level and plumb lines. You have a couple of options. Either locate existing wood backing (studs, plates or blocks) or install your own. Next cut along the lines with a retractable knife blade. It is best to just score a line first and then make a second and even third pass in order to cut completely through the material. Remove the old material and check the thickness. Drywall comes in various thicknesses so make sure that you are replacing it with the same size material. Now clean up the edges of the cut out to insure that the new material will be flush when installed.

Mark and cut a new piece of drywall to fit your cut out. It is advisable to cut the new piece about an 1/8” smaller than the cut out to ease in the installation of the new piece.

If your cut out was made over existing wood backing, you are now ready to install. If backing is needed, you can install a floating backing. Using a 1”x 2” or similar material, simply measure the cut out and install a slightly longer piece inside the opening using drywall screws to hold it in place. Now attach the new material to the wood backing using drywall screws. Make sure that the screw heads are slightly countersunk into the drywall surface to insure a smooth patch.

Stay tuned for our next tip on finishing your patch.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dryer Vents and Fire Hazards

The major cause of excess lint buildup in a dryer vent system is lack of cleaning and maintenance. Many vent systems have not been cleaned for 5 – 10 years if ever. This is an extreme fire hazard and should be addressed immediately. Another cause is inferior design or installation of the dryer vent system. Long vent runs, vertical vents and vent systems with too many bends can create an unusual hardship on the efficiency of your dryer. In fact dryer manufacturers recommend a total dryer vent length of no more than 14 feet, deducting 2 feet for each 90 degree bend. There are countless homes throughout the United States, including many new homes, that do not adhere to this specification. Builders, contractors and inspectors are either unaware or have completely overlooked the dryer vent system. Many times these systems require a blower assist fan to help solve the problem. The blower assist fan is a fairly simple installation that can be located in the attic of your home. While the fan is an added expense, it will be well worth it. When your dryer is operating at peak performance, it will use less energy. You will save money on electricity and gas and recuperate the cost of the fan in no time. But the most value you will receive is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your family is safe from dryer fires.

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