We recently came across an article by Sal Vaglica at This Old House Magazine, and it got us thinking about the kinds of repairs we are most frequently called upon to help our homeowners with. We pretty much agree with the article and wanted to share some of the points which stood out for us and might most benefit our customers.
Our Top Five Picks: Bad Habits we wish Homeowners would resolve to correct in 2016
Slamming the Front Door…
Repeatedly slamming a hefty entry door pushes its jamb out of alignment. Over time, the momentum can force the door from the opening, causing the seam where trim meets jamb to separate and leaving an exterior gap where moisture and cold air can infiltrate.
INSTEAD: Replace existing hinges with self-closing versions. “These can be adjusted so that the door closes softly without slamming,” says This Old House general contractor Tom Silva. On heavy wood doors, replace all three hinges; lightweight steel doors may need to have only one or two upgraded.
When water flowing off the roof can’t move through gutter troughs thanks to fallen leaves, pine needles, and branches, it dumps along the foundation, where it can seep into tiny cracks and crevices.
INSTEAD: Make sure to clean gutters before spring rains, checking to see that winter’s snow and ice haven’t pulled them away from the fascia. After cleaning, and while you still have the ladder out, install mesh gutter guards to help speed up your next de-gunking.
Extension Cords Everywhere…
Extension cords are temporary helpers, not the cure for your old-house lack-of-outlet blues. Placed on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Substantial Hazard List in 2015, some cords—especially the no-label, dollar-store variety—prompt constant recalls that cite electrocution and fire risk.
INSTEAD: Throw away old extension cords and any with loose plugs, split casings, or cheap-looking construction. Don’t run cords under rugs or around furniture, as they can overheat or crack, sparking danger. Use the right cord for the job: a 16-gauge cord to power small household appliances, such as a fan, that draw up to 13 amps; a 14-gauge cord for large power tools, like a table saw, that use up to 15 amps; a 12-gauge cord for items that need 20 amps, such as a compressor. And consider upgrading to grounded receptacles where you need them most.
With a “click, click” you might get the toaster browning bagels again, but repeatedly resetting tripping breakers is bad practice. Too many clicks can cause the safety mechanism to wear out, increasing the risk of an electrical fire.
INSTEAD: Unburden the breaker by running fewer items on the circuit. “Dehumidifiers, countertop convection ovens and microwaves, and air conditioners are often overload culprits,” says master electrician Scott Caron. He suggests having an electrician replace a breaker that’s tripped five times, and, for a long-term fix, upgrading the entire circuit to handle a higher load.
Over-doing Drain Cleaner…
Serial doses of clog-dissolving liquids or crystals containing sulfuric or hydrochloric acid or lye—even those that say “septic safe”—can wipe out the essential bacteria that break down waste in a healthy septic system.
INSTEAD: As a first line of attack against a clogged drain, flush with boiling water. For stubborn clogs, a routine mechanical cleaning with a closet auger snake is less damaging than those drain-clearing chemicals, which should be used only if necessary, and then only sparingly.
Good intentions… if you’ve owned your home for awhile you no doubt have a story about a quick fix or a simple repair that somehow went awry. No need to ‘fess up here, but remember it’s our mission to fix what you break, what wears out over time or what you are ready to update and/or replace.