Monday, December 4th, 2006
3:44 pm - Projects...  
Woke up to discover that it was snowing like crazy outside, a heavy wet snow that covered lawn and limbs, but melted when it hit pavement. Now it is sunny, and the first snow of the season is gone.

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I finally got around to properly rehanging the newly-painted back room door. There were a couple of issues here. First, the hinges were rusted, the result of years of being the entrance to the only air conditioned room in the house, and the resulting condensation on especially humid days. I actually had to clean off some mildew one summer. I never noticed the rust (the hinges are brass colored steel) until now. I cleaned it off with a wire brush, but that also took the brass finish off the metal. Not rusted, but not attractive, either. I got some brass colored spray paint to paint them with, but then I had a brilliant idea.

The hinges on the broom closet door were still all shiny and new looking, without a hint of rust to be seen, and were rarely visible, being, you know, in a closet. Why not just swap them for the rusty hinges? So that's what I did, and it worked just fine. I was going to have to remove the hinges for the other part of the job anyway, so it all worked out.

The second issue was that the door (or more likely, the jamb) was out of plumb. It was easy to tell. When closed, the gap between the door and the latch side jamb was uneven. There was almost no gap at the top, and a gap of about 5/16" at the bottom, so the door was hanging at an ever so slight diagonal. This was sufficient to prevent the door from latching properly. Fortunately, Tom Silva has covered this exact problem on
Ask This Old House
a few weeks ago. The key here is not so much to get everything plumb, but rather to get the door and the jamb parallel again. I cut some shims out of cardboard (I used some leftover matte board from my last attempt at framing), fitted them into the hinge mortises (two on the bottom hinge, one for the middle, and none for the top), and then reattached the hinges. It worked. The gap was more even, and the door could be latched. Sort of...

It turns out that not only was the door jamb out of plumb from side to side, but in and out as well. Now when I go to close the door, the when the bottom of the door touches the stop, the top of the door is still at least a quarter inch away. Latching the door means leaning into the top of the door a little to get it to catch. Bother. I either never noticed because the other problem seemed the culprit, or the shims did it (although I don't see how). I took a look at the ATOH website to see if this problem is mentioned, but no joy. Sigh. Still, it's better now than it was.

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The other home repair job I tackled was an attempt the stem the flow of water into the basement that's been happening with every heavy rain lately. The vast majority of it enters through the hole in the foundation where the waste pipe exits the house. The gap between the wall and the pipe isn't very big, a millimeter at most, but tis enough, apparently. ATOH had a bit on this a while back, too, and there solution was to remove some of the concrete around the pipe with a cold chisel and a sledge hammer, and fill the resulting large gap with hydraulic concrete, which expands as it cures. That seemed like an awful lot of work for such a little gap, so I looked for an easier way as a first pass. Home Depot had some concrete gap filling caulk, so I picked up a tube. Reading the instructions left me both optimistic:

High performance, latex-based sealant formulated to repair cracks and holes in concrete, mortar and masonry. Contains silicone additives for improved adhesion and water resistance. Forms a durable, flexible and watertight seal. Resists gas, oil, grease and salt. Interior/exterior use. Paintable. Water clean-up.

and pessimistic:

Works well on above ground foundations...

This being a basement, it's mostly below ground, and the spot where the pipe leaves certainly is. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and it was only a few bucks to try it. I took a wire brush to the area around the gap to remove any loose material, and then started caulking. That went easy enough. Since I had plenty left I decided to do something else, too. The hole in the foundation is about three feet off the floor. The waters enters, and then runs down the wall to the floor, with no easy way to catch any of it. I decided to try to create a lip out of the caulk just below the pipe so that if any water did manage to get through the seal, it would get directed out away from the wall a bit so it would actually drip. If it drips, then I can catch it in a bucket. So I made a smile shape with caulk below the pipe, pressing it into the wall to seal it, and then repeated the process a couple of times to build up a downward sloping lip of caulk. (The next person to own my house is going to constantly be muttering "What the heck?" when they start doing repairs.) We'll see how it goes. I'm hoping it never even gets tested, that the sealing of the gap will be sufficient. Then I can just scrape it off the wall, and no one will be the wiser.


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The third project worked on was a rebuild of my main computer, but more on that another time.