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THINGS EVERY HOMEOWNER SHOULD KNOW!

A Leaking Water Heater is a Time Bomb

Water heaters sometimes leak from the drain valve or relief valve. Those valves are easy to replace. But if a leak is coming from the tank, you’ve got serious trouble. The tank is lined with a thin coat of glass. Eventually, that glass begins to crack, the steel begins to rust away and a puddle appears. Left alone, the tank will rupture, causing an instant flood. It may take months for a leak to become a flood, or it may take days. But it will happen. Don’t gamble. Replace that leaking time bomb now.

Daytime is Crime Time

Most of us think of burglary as a nocturnal activity. That used to be true. But these days, most burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. In many cases, the crooks get in through unlocked doors or windows.

Pick-Proof Your Dead Bolt

Even amateur thieves can pick a lock. To hold the dead bolt firmly in place so the door can’t open, install the SIMLock (thesimlock.com). Replace a dead bolt screw with SIMLock’s special screw, then slide the “lock” over it to keep the dead bolt from turning. This product only works on dead bolts that lock in the vertical position.

Reinforce Your Entry Door Strike Plate

Reinforcing your door’s weak spot, the jamb, with a heavy-duty strike plate and extra-long screws gives it the added strength needed to withstand a burglar trying to kick in your door. If your dead bolt was installed within the last 10 years, it’s probably already reinforced. To check, simply remove the strike plate. If it’s heavy steel with at least 3-in. screws or has a heavy reinforcing plate, you can rest easy. If not, buy strike plate-reinforcing hardware.

To install, remove the old strike plate, then hold the new one in place and deeply score around it. Chisel out space for the new plate, then mount it by driving 3-in. screws through predrilled holes.

Make Your Furnace Last

Regular filter replacement is the very best thing you can do to keep your furnace in top condition. And here’s a way to keep track of that task: Buy several filters and label them. With some systems, monthly filter changes are best. Others can go a few months between changes.

Shut Off the Water Before Vacation

Every insurance adjuster has a hundred stories like this one: The homeowners left town Friday and returned Sunday evening to find thousands of dollars in water damage. The moral of these stories is simple: Before going on vacation, turn off the main water valve. In less than a minute, you can eliminate the most common cause of home damage

Get an Energy Audit

An energy audit entails a series of tests, including the blower door pressure test (shown), that tell you the efficiency of your heating and cooling system and the overall efficiency of your home. On the basis of the test results, the auditor will recommend low-cost improvements to save energy and larger upgrades that will pay you back within five to seven years. Audits take two to three hours and cost $250 to $400, but if you set one up through your utility company, you may be eligible for a rebate.

A basic part of an energy audit is the blower door test. The auditor closes all the doors and windows and then places a blower fan in a front or back door. This blower door test measures the “tightness,” or air infiltration rate. The pressure and flow gauge shows the difference between the inside and the outside airflow so the auditor can calculate the air leakage rate.

Buying a Dimmer Switch

Dimmer switches are available in many styles and configurations, including slides, knobs and touch-sensitive dimming mechanisms. However, check these key things:

  • Capacity (how many lights it can control). The capacity will be measured in watts. Add up the wattage of the bulbs in all the fixtures the switch controls to make sure it falls within the switch rating listed on the package or instructions.
  • Single-pole or three-way. Buy a “single-pole” switch if one switch controls the lights or a “three-way” if you have two switches controlling the same lights.
  • Light type. Standard and halogen bulbs require standard incandescent dimmers. A few fluorescent lights can be dimmed with special dimmer switches, but most can’t. Low-voltage lights may also require special dimmers.

Storage Solutions for Small Places

Shelving units are either hard to assemble and flimsy or awfully expensive. Here’s a better solution. These shelves are strong and easy to build and cost about $70. We sized this sturdy shelf unit to hold standard records storage boxes ($4 each). If you want deeper storage, build the shelves 24 in. deep and buy 24-in.-deep boxes. If you prefer to use plastic storage bins, measure the size of the containers and modify the shelf and upright spacing to fit.

Refer to the dimensions shown to mark the location of the horizontal 2×2 on the back of four 2x4s. Also mark the position of the 2×4 uprights on the 2x2s. Then simply line up the marks and screw the 2x2s to the 2x4s with pairs of 2-1/2-in. wood screws. Be sure to keep the 2x2s and 2x4s at right angles. Rip a 4 x 8-ft. sheet of 1/2-in. MDF, plywood or OSB into 16-in.-wide strips and screw it to the 2x2s to connect the two frames and form the shelving unit.

If you choose plastic bins rather than cardboard boxes, label the plastic with a wet-erase marker. When it’s time to relabel the bin, just wipe away the marks with a damp rag. No room for floor-standing shelves? Build this sliding storage system on the ceiling.

 

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