Weather Seals – Get It Done THE St Louis Handyman

My home is ten years old. The front door, the back patio doors, both lower and upper, and the garage door from the utility room are all solid wood doors; heavy and were not cheap. During this ten year period, I have noticed that the rubber bottoms, attached to the door have started to come off. I usually just pull the rubber and cut with a scissors.  Do I have to have someone come in and remove the doors and replace this rubber? These rubber seals do help keep out the cold in the winter.  I myself would not be able to take these doors off their hinges. Thanks for your info.

Your description of the door bottom weather seals is a common one.  Although they are supposed to be somewhat air tight, the constant friction they get when opening and closing the doors, causes wear and tear on the rubber, eventually allowing them to deteriorate and start coming off, just as you described.

There are two basic ways of installing new seals.  The first is to replace it with the same type of seal that  you have now.  This would require taking the door off of the hinges, taking the old seal off, and then going to get a new one.

To do this, take a screwdriver and hammer and tap the hinge pins of the door up and out of the hinges.  If the door is heavy (which most entry doors are), you may need a second person to help.  Once the pins are removed, gently pull the door out.  You will then be able to set the door down to look at the bottom seal.  These seals are usually nailed or stapled in, but sometimes, they just snap in, so you’ll have to see which way you need to remove the seal.

The next step is to find the replacement.  Although the hardware stores may carry something that looks similar, it is best to find an exact match, which means going to a specialty store.  I have had good luck with Genesco Doors and Windows (314/283-2563) in Westport.   If you are doing more than one door, it is best to get a sample from each door.  The new seal will be installed the same way the old one was, either by small nails, staples, or just snapping it in.  Once you have this taken care of, just reverse the process of putting the door back on the hinges.

The second method of replacing the seal is easier to do as it usually doesn’t require taking the door off.  The hardware stores will carry a variety of different seals.  One that I like is called a “door shoe”.  It is a “U” shaped seal that attaches to the inside of the door with small screws.

To use one of these, you’ll first have to remove as much of the old seal as possible.  If you can get the whole thing out, this would be best.  Once the old seal is out, the “U” shaped seal can slide under the door and be attached.  The slots where the screws attach to the door allow for you to adjust the seal up or down for a good fit.  Before screwing in this new seal, be sure to close the door and make sure it will fit.  If it doesn’t, you may have to remove more of the old seal.  When you’re done, close the door and get down on the floor to look to the outside.  You should not be able to see any light under the bottom of the door.  If you do, loosen the screws and adjust the seal downward until you can no longer see any outside light.

It is a fairly simple process, and once you have done one, you’ll be ready for the next.  You will be happy that you took this project on and may very well feel the difference when winter comes!

Get It Done

THE St Louis Handyman


Installing a Ceiling Fan

All of the hardware stores and lighting stores will have a large selection of fans for you to choose from, and as far as installation, they are basically alike.  However, there are a few choices as to powering fans on and off:  a remote on/off (good for high ceiling installations), pull-chain, or wall switch. Many fans also come with a light kit, but if it doesn’t, you can usually add that later.

Once you have the fan, turn off the circuit breaker for the light in the room.  Don’t just rely on turning off the switch, as you could still have power in the box where the light is.

Next, remove the cover and housing to the existing light, but leave the wires.  When you remove the housing of the existing light, see if there is a fan brace there already (it supports the extra weight of the fan).  It is a junction box with a steel arm which goes above the hole of the ceiling and is screwed into the two joists on either side of the hole.  If not, you will have to remove the existing box and install the fan brace.

Gently pull the wires down from the existing box.  There will be at least two groups of wires that will be in the box.  Take a piece of tape and mark it with a “1”, then wrap it lightly around each wire in that group, so that you know these wires belong together.

Then go to the second group and wrap each wire with the tape, marking it with a “2”, and continue with each group.  It may help to take a close up picture of the wiring as well.  Also mark on the piece of tape whether the wire from the existing light is black, white, red, or just copper.

If you need to install the fan brace, remove the old box first.  It is usually nailed next to a joist so you may need to pry it out using a pry bar.  Or, you can use a hack saw to cut through the nails.

Then follow the installation directions the come with the fan brace.  All the wires that were in the old box will need to come in to the new box.  You’ll then be ready to start assembling the ceiling fan.

Follow the directions closely and don’t jump ahead when installing it.  If the fan came with a light, the instructions will show you all of the wiring and assembly.

Once you have the fan hung (again, be certain you followed all of the wiring and assembly directions), turn the circuit breaker on and the switch for the fan and light, making sure they work properly.  If by chance the fan wobbles on any speed, read the directions for balancing the fan blade which is simple to do.

When you’re done – grab a chair and a good book and enjoy the gentle breeze of your new fan.

Get It Done
THE St. Louis Handyman

Ceiling Stain – Ask THE St. Louis Handyman Get It Done

I have a question for the “Ask the handyman” column.  I just noticed a brown stain on the ceiling of my kitchen.  Does my roof need to be replaced?  Thanks so much for listening. S.M. in Fenton, MO.

Time to put on you sleuth hat and play detective.  Before you consider putting on an entire new roof, we want to try and isolate the cause as much as possible.  The problem could be the roof, a leak from a bathroom (if you have a second floor), or a vent boot which needs to be caulked.

The first thing to do is take a pencil and trace around the stain.  This will help you to discover if the leak is growing as we try to isolate it.  If the leak only happens when someone is using the bathroom upstairs, then you can easily explore the source by tracking when it happens.  However if the leak expands when it is raining, we will need to look at the roof.

You may want to start with a visual inspection.  Look at the shingles for cracks, raised edges, etc.  This could be a sign that a new roof is needed.  A typical roof will last between 15 and 20 years.  If you suspect a new roof is needed, call several roofing companies for estimates.

If your roof looks like it’s in good shape, then you want to check the vent boots to see if the leak is coming from there.  Usually in the back of the house, there are one or more pipes which come through the roof and extend up about one foot (they are usually between 2” and 4” in diameter).  These are vents from your interior drain pipes and allow proper ventilation and drainage.

Where they go through the roof, there is flashing around the pipe, called a “vent boot”.  Sometimes this flashing needs to be caulked or replaced.  Try using a clear silicone caulk or roof cement if you see a crack.  If the “boot” needs replacing, they are available at the larger hardware stores, and usually come in different sizes, but some are adjustable for a range of sizes.

The best way to install a new vent boot is to remove a few shingles around the boot flashing, lower the new boot over the old one, caulk it down, and then reattach the shingles.  I’ve even seen the new boot installed directly over the old one without removing shingles and just caulking it in place.

Once you’ve corrected the source of the problem, leave the ceiling stain a little longer to make sure the issue is resolved.  Then you can touch it up with a stain killer and paint and it should look good as new.

Get It Done

THE St. Louis Handyman