This is something I see in houses every once in a while. The deadbolt is keyed inside the house and lacks the normal handle to lock and unlock. Most people who have these installed believe that it is a security feature. This door has a window next to the deadbolt and the thinking is that if the window is broken by an intruder they wouldn't be able to open the deadbolt if it requires a key.
While this is possibly true, if an intruder or burglar really wants to get in there are other ways they could do it (other windows, sliding door, kicking the door in). In reality, most people with a double keyed deadbolt leave a key in the lock anyway.
The real issue with a double keyed deadbolt is the danger it poses to occupants of the house. Code requires that any means of egress (exit) during an emergency to be able to be operated without any special tools, procedures or knowledge. If there is a fire inside the house that is the day that someone would have taken the key out of the lock. You need to make things easy on yourself during an emergency - adrenaline and panic do not necessarily lead to rational thought and problem solving. If the means of exiting your house requires a key from the inside you are putting all the occupants at risk of injury or even death.
This deadbolt needs to be replaced with a standard lockset with a handle on the inside. This is a fairly simple fix that can be done by most homeowners.
You try to open your garage door one morning and hear a huge metallic bang. The door isn't opening but the opener still works. What happened? The most common reason for this to occur is that the torsion springs failed. Check out the video below for 3 signs to check to determine if your torsion springs are broken.
Caulking and paint need yearly maintenance to ensure that it is still protecting your house. A common spot to find hidden damage is at exposed wood trim, especially at areas that have a latex caulk sealing a gap. Caulking with a coat of paint is pretty good protection for wood, but once it fails water has an easy path to wood and can cause hidden damage.
Just a little bit of probing at a bubbling area reveals hidden damage. I used fairly light pressure here and the knife slid right in to the wood. You can see the hidden rot underneath. This has been going on for a while. It's likely that the previous homeowner painted over a failing area of paint without fixing the underlying damage.
Sliding screen doors are great at keeping bugs out and allowing pleasant breezes in but they are prone to damage. Dogs trying to get in, cats trying to get out and children who try to grab on to the frame too enthusiastically can all be a problem. Follow this step by step guide to learn how to replace a damaged screen on a sliding screen door.
Choose a corner and start to remove the spline (rubber piece holding the screen in the channel). A slotted screw driver is a good starter to pry out the spline. Once it is started you can pull the spline out around the perimeter of the door.
Remove the damaged screen from the frame. The screen should remove easily once the spline is out.
Start at the top. Use the spline tool to pre-crease the screen in to the channel. Press the spline into place over the screen and in to the channel by hand. Follow up with the spline tool to roll along the spline and firmly seat in place.
I concentrate on the top of the door frame first and try to get everything positioned evenly along the width of the replacement screen. Don't be afraid to start over if you notice the screen isn't quite level with the frame. Just pull out the spline, reposition the screen and repeat until everything is nice and even.
Once you are happy with the top of the door move to the right side. Once again use the thin side of the spline tool to pre-crease the screen in to the channel. Place the spline and then use the concave side of the tool to seat the spline in place.
The bottom and left side of the door are a little bit tricky. You want to make sure to pull the screen tight before creasing the screen and placing the spline.
Hold the screen tight and work a few inches at a time with the spline to ensure that everything stays level and taut.
Once you reach the starting point with the spline you will likely have a bit left over. Cut to length with a utility knife.
Once the spline is firmly seated and the screen is to your liking it's time to trim the excess screen away. Using a utility knife, cut just outside the spline on the screen. Slow and steady will give you a nice clean edge.
Replace the door hardware. Adjust the door as needed and lubricate the tracks.
Your roof has a tremendous surface area that is excellent at collecting water during a rain storm. Hopefully all that water is going to a gutter and eventually to a downspout. Where does the water go once it leaves the downspout? Ideally, the downspout is connected to a perimeter or stormwater drain so that water is taken away from your foundation. Frequently, water is pooling at the downspout and can make its way to your foundation and lead to a very wet crawlspace or structural damage.
Take a look at the downspouts at your house. Are they connected to a drain system or are they able to spew water on the ground next to your house? If the downspout ends at the ground like the above pictures, you have a potential problem. All that water can erode the dirt around the foundation and lead to moisture penetration at the foundation and in to the crawlspace. An easy fix is either a splash block or a downspout extension (pictures below). They need to go at the end of the downspout and placed so that they direct water away from the house.
Tools and Material Required: Utility knife and/or drywall saw, small piece of thin wood (I used 1/2" plywood), replacement piece of drywall.
Do you have wall siding that is in contact with concrete? This is a common site of water penetration and long term can lead to hidden damage in the wall framing. There needs to be a gap between wall siding and any contact with concrete or earth to allow water to drain. If this isn't possible, flashing needs to be installed to help with water shedding.
These pictures show a wall where the siding that was in contact with the concrete patio has been removed for further investigation. The siding showed signs of rot and the wall framing behind looks to have been in contact with water for awhile. The sill plate and rim joist (important framing pieces) are rotted out from the long term presence of water. This homeowner will need to consider some extensive repairs. The sill plate and rim joist need to be cut out and replaced with sound wood.
Is your smoke alarm more than 10 years old? Time to replace and while you are at it, I recommend you upgrade your smoke alarm to dual sensor models that have both ionization and photoelectric capabilities. Read on below for step by step instructions on how to replace an existing hardwired smoke alarm in your home.
These directions are specific to to replacing a hardwired (connected to household AC current) and interconnected smoke detectors. If you don't feel comfortable working with electrical wires consider having a qualified party do this work.
1. Turn off the circuit breaker controlling the circuit for your fire alarm.
2. Remove the existing smoke alarm from the ceiling bracket.
3. Test at the smoke alarm wire pigtail to ensure that the power is off.
Step 4: Remove the pigtail wires from the back of the smoke alarm.
Step 5: Loosen the screws holding the existing bracket to the ceiling junction box. Remove the bracket.
Step 6: Pull the existing wires out of the junction box. There should be a black wire, white wire and a red wire in the box. The pigtail connection to the alarm will have a black wire, white wire and either a red or orange wire. Remove the wire nuts and separate the old pigtail from the ceiling wiring.
Step 7: Match up the pigtail connector wiring to the existing house wires. Black attaches to black. White to white wire and Red or orange to red.
Step 8: Make a connection between the pigtail wires and the house wires using a wire nut. Make sure that the wire colors match.
Step 9: Tuck the house wires and connections back in to the junction box.
Step 10: Thread the pigtail connection through the ceiling bracket.
Step 11: Secure the new ceiling bracket to the junction box and ceiling by replacing and tightening the screws that were loosened in step 5.
Step 12: This step is optional but highly recommended. Write the date of installation for both the battery and smoke alarm prior to installing in the bracket. This will make it easy in the future to know when the battery and alarm need to be replaced.
Step 13: Connect the pigtail adapter to the back of the smoke alarm.
Step 14: Gently place the pigtail in to the junction box while seating the smoke alarm body.
Step 15: Seat the alarm body in the bracket. Twist to seat. You may have a ribbon to pull to activate the alarm. Pull gently and steadily to remove the ribbon and activate the alarm.
Step 16: Cover your ears and push the test button to make sure that the new alarm works.
Reach inside this kitchen cabinet and find a surprise - an uncovered connection between 110 volt house power and a low voltage transformer for under cabinet LED lighting. Who wants a shock to go with their morning coffee?
All wiring connections need to be covered in a junction box - this needs to be fixed. This is a relatively simple thing to do if you are comfortable with working with electrical wiring. If you are not familiar with electrical work and safety, hire an electrician to fix this problem.
How to correct this problem:
1. Turn off the power to this circuit at the breaker box.
2. Make sure that the power is off by testing at the circuit with a non contact tester.
3. Undo the connection between the in wall wiring and the transformer.
4. Place a surface mount junction box over the wiring penetration.
5. Put all wires to be connected inside the box.
6. Make the connection between the house wiring and the transformer.
7. Put the cover on the junction box.
8. Turn the power back on and test.
Easy fix and the right thing to do. All electrical connections need to be inside a junction box according to both electrical code and common sense. This provides protection to the circuit and to the homeowner.
Outside view of the shop wall with the leak - it's about halfway down this wall on the inside. You need to look at the two likely causes to determine where the water is coming from.
• Ground sloping towards the wall instead of away.
• Water from gutter/roof system.
The ground is fairly flat here behind the wall. Slight slope from the neighbors yard but overall the grassy area behind the shop wall is fairly dry. No evidence of ground water moving towards the wall.
Always look up at the roof and gutters - even a small drip can lead to problems over time. Right above the location of the leak inside we can find evidence that the gutters have been overflowing and dripping. Note the pine needles and gunk residue from the overflow of this gutter system. The ground under this leak is soggy and muddy. We found the source of the leak.
How to fix (need to be comfortable with getting on a ladder - if you are not, hire someone to do it for you):
1. Look at the gutter system for clogs. Common spot to find it is in the downspout connection or inside the downspout itself.
2. Remove any clogs and debris from the downspouts and gutters. Ensure that water from the roof has a controlled path to the ground.
3. Look at where the water is coming out of the downspouts. Is there a splash block? Is there a connection to a drainage system? Water from the roof needs to be directed away from the foundation and allowed to go downslope away from the structure.
This is an easy problem to fix with just a little effort and time.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.