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The Charlotte Handyman , All Your home repairs in 1 call 704-614-3420

The Charlotte Handyman , All Your home repairs in 1 call 704-614-3420

 

There’s a bit of immediate success in making minor repairs for people that Charlotte enjoys, which is part of what drew him to volunteer for Jewish Family Service of Charlotte NC. When he first called to inquire about volunteering more than four years ago, he had to do a little explaining.

“I called in and they said, ‘What is it you need fixed?’ And I said, ‘Nothing.’ And they said, ‘Why are you calling?’ And I said, ‘I have a skill set that may be useful for you guys,’ ” Mayer, 73, recalled with a chuckle. “And thus it began.”

Mayer, a retired mechanical engineer who ran his own business in Pennsylvania before coming to Charlotte, estimates that he spends between 10 to 15 hours each week working on projects for JFS Fix-It Service. The program trains volunteers to provide additional assistance to older adults and their caregivers through minor home safety repairs and modifications, according to the program’s website. Volunteers provide a safety inspection of each client’s home before making any repairs, which can include installing wireless doorbells, mounting handrails, repairing window screens, installing handheld showers, or smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.

He’s done repair work all over the county — including in Matthews, National City, and Mint Hill — and each job is different. The tasks can range from changing light bulbs to tracking down electrical problems or resolving plumbing issues.

Remove the Tape

“It sort of sounds silly to change somebody’s light bulb, but if you’re 85 and your kitchen fluorescent fixture goes out, what are your options?” he said. “You can call a fix-it guy who will charge you a lot of money and you’re letting strangers into your house, or you can call an organization like ours.”

In the time that he’s been volunteering with JFS Fix-It, he’s seen the need for the service grow considerably, he said, and he believes the organization would be able to do even more to help others with more financial donations. In the meantime, it feels good providing a service to others.

“This work, particularly, gives you instant gratification,” he said. “If you go into somebody’s house and you install grab bars and smoke detectors, and you leave, you know immediately they’re better off than they were before you got there.”

Gleaming, oversize subway tile set with thick ribbons of matte grout: It’s the last thing you expect to see in a foyer or a dining room. But when the work is done with paint, the result can be a perfect, playful visual effect.

Decorative painter Ingrid Leess “tiled” this foyer wall in two days, using 1-inch-wide delicate-adhesion painter’s tape and latex paint in two colors and finishes. “The exaggerated grid delivers a lot of punch, and it certainly goes up faster than the real thing,” she says.

For maximum effect, she used a base coat of flat gray to create the look of grout lines, and high-gloss gold to make her glazed-ceramic-like tiles. “Strong colors work well,” she notes, “but the impact comes from the contrasting finishes; you could also choose flat white and glossy ivory.”

Read on for the step-by-step process, from blank wall to trompe l’oeil.

Tip: Any color combination will do—even two shades of white. But contrasting sheens are key. Choose a flat finish for the base coat (the “grout”) and a high-gloss finish for the top coat (the “tile”). Draw a brush through the wet paint to give the tile subtle texture.

Owning a home can be a dream come true, but the world of home ownership is more than just relaxing weekends on the deck and intimate evenings in front of the fireplace. It requires a commitment to keeping your private oasis safe and running smoothly. Making occasional repairs is part of the bargain, and even if you aren’t a dedicated do-it-yourselfer (DIY), there are a few around-the-house fixes you should become familiar with.

Few things will sour a homeowner’s disposition faster than a stopped up toilet or runaway faucet drip, and that’s just bathroom and kitchen stuff.

Roll up your sleeves and take a few minutes to master five home repairs that you can do yourself without dangerous tools or complicated instructions. Even though spending a few hours regularly on DIY home maintenance and repairs may never become your hobby of choice, knowing how to perform a few simple fixes will keep your costs down and help get the work done on your schedule instead of your contractor’s.

Home Construction Image Gallery

5: Prepping Your Paint Jobs Like a Pro

Whether you want to paint a whole room or just need to cover a nail hole, nothing helps to maintain or improve the appearance of a room like paint. You haven’t owned a home very long if you don’t have paint spattered work clothes in your closet and a couple of paintbrushes in your basement or garage.

Sprucing up your rooms with paint is one of the best ways to show your home to advantage, but before you start collecting color swatches, there are some things to keep in mind. Painting, when it’s done well, can increase the value of your home and add style and flair to your space. When the job isn’t done well, and it’s easy to see roller marks, spatters, and sloppy trim paint, it’s almost as bad as leaving cracked and peeling paint on the walls.

You’ll achieve the best results when you prepare for the job. Where painting is concerned, prep is king. Good preparation takes time, but it also makes the actual painting easier.

Start by removing any fixtures or hardware that might get in the way of your project. Loosen up fixtures and remove curtain rods, switch-plates and door hinges. Yes, it does take time, but it isn’t extra time. If you leave things in place that will create obstacles for your paintbrush or roller, you will be wasting time trying to cover or paint around them later. You’ll take more time, and the end result won’t look as professional as if you’d cleared everything away to start with.

After you have an unobstructed shot at the walls, clean them with a damp sponge or a dry cloth. Grease, dust and grime buildup will keep paint from making a good bond on your walls, and could cause streaks. Give the room a once over, and be on the lookout for nail holes, gouges and other imperfections that need to be filled with spackle and rough spots that could use some sanding. Little repairs like this, especially in older homes, can make a big difference in the appearance of the final paint job. Once you’ve cleaned the walls and done a few minor fix-ups, apply primer to any sanded areas. If you’ve sanded large areas, you might consider using a paint that has primer incorporated into it and eliminate the need to prime the walls as a separate step.

Now you’re ready to mask any molding, built-ins and baseboards with painter’s tape and start laying down drop cloths. After that, painting your room will be easy.

On the next page, we’ll knock a little sense into your favorite interactive room divider, the door.

4: Dealing with Doors

You have doors all over your home, and even though they look innocent and simple, doors need occasional maintenance and repair. From squeaks to sticking, door problems are usually minor but can be a nuisance.

Wooden interior doors aren’t exposed to the elements, but they’re still subject to seasonal climate changes. In humid weather, wooden doors can swell if there isn’t enough room to accommodate expansion between the door and the frame. Inspect the door to make sure there aren’t any loose hinge screws or deteriorated hinges that could be causing the problem. Tighten loose screws by first placing a door wedge on the latch end of the door to balance the weight. If the screws look OK but the door meets resistance when it closes, make a note of the tight spots. If a door starts sticking only during humid months or during the rainy season, it may need to be planed. Before you take this step, though, consider the fact that in a few months the problem may go away by itself.

To plane the door, you’ll need a special carpenter’s plane. A plane will scrape a small layer of wood off the door’s edge the way a cheese plane removes a narrow slice from a block of cheese. Draw a line along the door at the spot where it’s hitting the jamb or lintel. If the tight spot is located at the top of the door or on the handle end, you can plane the door without taking it off its hinges. Just be careful to make an angle cut first in order to avoid splintering the wood or veneer. If the tight spot is on the hinge end or bottom of the door, tap out the hinge pins with a hammer and screwdriver and set the door on its side to plane it. Since planing the hinge end may result in having to reset the hinges, make this step a last resort option.

Sticking or binding doors can sometimes cause squeaks because they put extra pressure on the hinges. Hinges can also get noisy when they begin to oxidize. If your door hinges announce anyone entering or leaving the room, you might be able to silence them with a little lubricant. First, cover the area under the door with a cloth and then apply penetrating oil to the hinges. Be sparing at first. After applying a few drops, open and close the door to work lubricant into the moving parts of the hinge. Give it a couple of minutes, and try opening and closing the door one more time. If there’s still a squeak, apply a few more drops and go through the process again.

If oiling the hinges doesn’t solve the problem, try cleaning the hinge pins. First, place a shim under the door for support and remove the hinge pins one at a time. Scour them with steel wool, and clean the pinholes with a small circular wire brush.

Let’s proceed to the next page, where we’ll talk about working with caulk.

Don’t leave your guests out in the cold because your door won’t open.

3: Applying Caulk

Caulk is the bead of rubbery stuff between your tub, shower or sink and the wall, or between your toilet’souter rim and the floor. It creates a seal that protects floors and walls from moisture. It also glues itself in place, which makes applying it an easy one step process. Over time, caulk can discolor or deteriorate, leaving your home vulnerable to water damage and mold growth.

The hardest part of installing caulk is removing the residue left by the old stuff. Without completely eliminating the old caulk, the new bead won’t stick, so good preparation is important. In the old days, you had to remove caulk with a razor scraper, and it took a while to get it all up. Now, there are a number of products on the market that will soften old caulk and make it easier to remove. Treated caulk residue comes up easily with a putty knife. After the old caulk is gone, clean the area with paint thinner and let it dry completely. Now you’re ready to move on to the installation process.

Using a caulking gun or standard tube of caulk takes a little practice. It’s a bit like trying to draw a straight line using a tube of toothpaste. You have some choices here, though. Caulk is inexpensive, so you can buy extra and practice on a piece of plywood first. Be sure to cut the cone-shaped tip of the caulk cap on an angle and at a diameter that’s large enough to accommodate the widest gap in your project.

If you don’t have much confidence in your ability to lay down a smooth, even bead of caulk, there are caulk strips on the market that you simply unroll and press into place. They take the artistry out of the process but are a pretty foolproof solution if you want to do the job in a hurry and have a standard installation.

On the next page, well take a look at the challenges of fixing a leaking faucet.

Repair Wood Rot: Epoxy Wood Filler

How to fix rotten wood with epoxy wood filler. I’m going to show my repair to the bottom of my exterior door trim, but you can also repair other wood rot, like window sills and frames, porch columns, decorative wood, and so on. These are cosmetic fixes and not “structural fixes” (repair to sill beams for example and other load bearing structures).
After scraping old paint off our exterior door, I noticed something that wasn’t good. Some of the trim around the bottom of the door was rotted out. So I pried off the middle board shown above, and found that matters were even worse than I thought. The sill beam below the door had rotted as well! Oh boy…
Here’s what the sill beam looked like with most of the worst rot removed. But you can see that in order to repair the sill beam (the 6″x6″ beam on top of the foundation shown above), I’ll have to remove the left exterior door trim to get at the beam. Note: I don’t have the sill beam repair article done yet, but I will soon.
What follows is only about making a cosmetic fix to the bottom section of the left door trim. That bottom section, although it doesn’t look too bad in this photo, was very rotted (mostly on the back side) and very soft up a few inches from the bottom. This is what happens when wood is in contact moist surfaces (the steps, during rain and snow). Also the wood grain at the end of the boards is particularly good at sucking up moisture. Note: You can click on any photo to enlarge them.


Rather than remove the whole piece of left door trim, it seemed easier in this case just to cut the lower few inches off with a sawzall, make the rot repair with wood epoxy, and then reattach it later. I could have manufactured a new matching piece of wood, but it would have been quite a bit of work, as the piece was unique in size and notched out in the back, and also was not an available trim piece from home stores. I remembered seeing an article online about repairing rot with epoxy, so it was off to Google to research “rotten wood repair”, as I was also eager to learn about rot repair for the fun of it as well!

After researching it was time to repair the rot. Here’s what I did, using 2 products:
1. Liquid wood hardener (resin that penetrates soft wood, making it hard again)
2. Epoxy Wood Filler (2 part epoxy to rebuild/replace the rotted wood)


Here’s the bottom of the door trim. You can see the rot from the front doesn’t look too bad, but much of it was so brittle it just came loose in my hands, after this photo was taken.


The wood rot was worse on the back. The rotted wood was completely dry, but very soft and crumbly. Note: I’m in these photos as I was using the laptop as my camera here, and had to see what I was shooting. Please excuse my large nose!

Step 1: Remove Unstable Rotten Wood

The first step to repair wood rot with epoxy wood filler, is to remove any rotted wood that is loose, crumbly or very soft. You want to get down to reasonably stable wood. It can be a bit soft though. I used a screw driver, like a dentist removing tooth decay. Wire brushes work well for other flatter surfaces. The wood should also be completely dry, or as dry as possible before going further. This might mean using a heater, or fan, or whatever to dry the piece out. Or if it’s an exterior piece you might need to cover the area with a trap for a while to thoroughly dry it out. Less than 20% moisture content is the recommended level, but who has a moisture meter? Just use common sense and get it as dry as possible.

Step 2: Drill Holes in and Around the Affected Area

Drilling holes helps the liquid wood hardener penetrate deeper into the wood. I should have drilled hole a bit bigger. 1/4″ is recommended. Don’t drill all the way through!

Step 3: Apply Liquid Wood Hardener

There are a number of brands out there. I just happened to have quick access to this one (Minwax, High Performance, Wood Hardener). This can was about $9.50 at Home Depot.


Lather on a few quick coats with a cheap disposable bristle brush. Be sure to get every nook and cranny. Then let it dry for 2-3 hours. When dry, the resin that has penetrated the soft wood will make it hard and stable again. My glove here looks weird as the lower half ripped off, so it’s not some special fingers only glove, ha!

Step 4: Add Screws for Strength as an Extra Measure.

The screws are optional, but are not a bad idea, as they act like rebar (reinforcing bars used in concrete). The screws give the epoxy wood filler something to grab on to and will add strength to the repair. I used exterior deck screws.

Step 5: Mix up a Batch of Epoxy Wood Filler

This just happens to be Bondo epoxy wood filler. Many people have used regular Bondo for fixing wood rot before with no issues, but a quick Google search will also turn up just as many people saying that the traditional Bondo (used for auto body repair) isn’t a good idea to use on wood rot repair, as it does not expand and contract with temperature changes and that a dedicated epoxy wood filler, made for wood rot does. The product above is from Bondo and say it’s a “wood filler”. I’ve never seen it before (might be the same as the auto Bondo, who knows). Anyway the photo on the front looked convincing so I figured I give it a go, as other epoxies I found online were more expensive. I’ll give follow up, updates as to how it holds up in our harsh New England winters and humid summers.


First you fill the supplied cup with the wood filler. Forgot to put my gloves on here.


Then you squeeze out a bead of epoxy hardener to a length of the diameter of the cup (see your product for specific directions).


Mix the Bondo and the hardener up well with a disposable plastic putty knife.

Step 6: Apply the Epoxy Wood Filler to the Rotted Wood

Be sure to goop it into the nooks and crannies. I used plastic putty knife and screw driver to work it into the pockets of the rotted wood. Bondo suggest that you build up layers no greater than 1/2 inch thick at a time.


Bondo sets up quickly, so you’ll be mixing up a few batches and applying it in layers if you have to build up a large section as I did. I’m sure there’s a neater way to do this (you can build a form out of plastic), and I’m sure some people are better skilled with their putty knifes (you can wet your putty knife with lacquer thinner to keep the wood filler from sticking to it). I didn’t bother much with neatness and it shows, but it didn’t seem to matter. All this extra bulk will be sanded away. Let it cure for 30 minutes. It’ll get warm, as the chemicals do their thing.


After about 15 minutes with a 5″ orbital sander, I was able to craft a very close replica of the original trim piece, complete with notched cut out on the back side (the house siding goes behind that notch). No more wood rot here. And once primed, painted and reattached, this piece will be rot resistant, as it’s epoxy, not wood.

More photos and story coming shortly of the piece being reinstalled.–Peter

Products/Tools
Minwax, High Performance, Wood Hardener
Bondo Home Solutions Wood Filler (No info. on 3M’s website, they make the stuff)
Popular alternative: Abatron LiquidWood, and Abatron WoodEpox
Another alternative: Conserv Epoxy
Another alternative: PC Products
Wire brush, screw driver or whatever to remove the rot
Drill
Disposable bristle brush
Plastic putty knife
Shaping tools: Rasp, sandpaper, sander, etc.

 

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