Perpetual Outlet Cover – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis

My outside yard lights continue to trip the outside circuit breaker thing. Is this a problem with the lights? Usually, when I reset the circuit, they will come back on, but it seems that in a day or two, it happens again.

It sounds as though you are getting a short to your electric, causing the interruption of power. From your description, it appears you have a GFCI outlet outside. If this is where you are pushing the “reset” button each time after the lights go off, then we’ve narrowed the possibilities.

Several things come to mind. It could be that you have a GFC I that is becoming defective and needs to be replaced. However, these usually will either work or not work. It is unusual that it would “trip” and reset continually unless there is another issue going on.

The second possibility is the light transformer or the low voltage wiring. If there is any bare wire touching other wires, this could cause the lights to trip the GFCI. However, if this is happening, you shouldn’t be able to reset it.

My last thought is this: do you have a sprinkler? If so, does it ever spray to the area where the GFCI is or any other outlet? If so, then this is likely the culprit. Water can cause the GFCI to trip. When you reset it, the lights work fine – until the sprinkler comes back on and trips it again.

Don’t panic. There is a simple solution which anyone can do. It is called a perpetual outlet cover. This is simply a box which covers up the outlet, along with anything that is plugged into the box, keeping everything from getting wet. All it requires is removing the outlet cover and replacing it with the new one, along with a piece of provided weather seal. It’s that easy. Just be sure when you plug something in that you close the cover.

 


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Replacing a Deck Board – Ask THE Handyman St Louis – Get It Done

I have some deck boards that look like they need replacing. Is this hard to do? What type of lumber do I get?

 

Replacing a deck board is fairly easy. The hardest part is getting the old one out. If you’re lucky enough to have a deck where the boards are attached with screws, this will be much easier. Simply remove the screws with a drill and the board should come right up. (Deck boards should always be attached with screws. It not only holds the board better than a nail, but is much easier to remove should the need arise.)

If the boards are nailed in, you’ll need to pry them out. The best way to do this is with a pry bar. Rest the bar on a scrap piece of wood next to the board you’re trying to remove. Then, starting at one end, begin prying the board up. At some point, you’ll need to then move the pry bar further along and continue the process. This is where the work and time are involved. Once the board is out, be sure that all of the nails came out as well. You’re now ready for the new wood.

There are basically two types of wood generally used on a deck in this part of the country, cedar and treated wood. Rather than getting into the discussion of which one is best, I would recommend using the same type you removed. A treated board may have somewhat of a green appearance to it, and if it is old, will possibly have small cracks running through the board. However, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the wood type, so I would suggest cutting a small piece off the old board, then taking it to the hardware store or lumber yard. They will be able to identify it for you.

When you go the store take the length measurements of the boards you are replacing. You may have to buy a piece longer that what you have. If you don’t have a circular saw, have the store cut the boards for you, but be certain you’ve measured correctly.

If by chance you have a very old deck, you may run into a problem. Years ago, a 2×6 for example, measured a true 2 inches by 6 inches. However, a 2×6 today measures 1 ½” by 5 ½”. If your old board is one of the true dimension boards, you’ll need to take it to the lumber yard (not a hardware store) and see what they have available. They might be able to cut something down for the special dimensions.

While at the store, be sure to buy deck screws, at least 2 ½” to 3” long. You cannot just use any type screws, make sure they are for an outdoor deck. Plan on using two screws at each joist the board crosses.

As to sealing or staining the new wood – don’t. You need to let the wood become “seasoned”. This means letting it weather for about 4 to 6 months before staining it.

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