Five Spring Fix-it Projects

image001For most homeowners April showers bring rust, clogged rain gutters and all manner of sticky doors and windows. To help with these troubles, here are some sure-fire solutions to common spring problems. They’re easy enough to tackle in a weekend so you can spend more time smelling those beautiful spring flowers.

Rain Gutter Repairs

Nobody likes to clean or repair gutters. However, there are a few ways to make the job easier. First, for clogged downspouts, try using barbecue tongs to reach in and pull the leaves out. This doesn’t always work, but considering the alternative of using a hose to flush out the clog and getting wet and covered with gutter goop, it’s worth a try.

Second, to repair loose gutter nails try replacing them with extra-long lag screws. The lag screws tend to be stronger, hold better and can easily be installed with a cordless drill equipped with a nut driver bit.

Repairing Cracks in Concrete

Concrete always cracks. For most cracks less than 1/4″ , applying concrete caulk is a good way to make repairs. Just clean the crack out with a high-pressure hose nozzle, let it dry and then apply the caulk into the crack. For larger cracks, substitute concrete patch for caulk.

Large cracks or small, repair is necessary because water that seeps into cracks will soften the ground underneath and cause more cracking. The situation worsens if the water freezes.

Sticky Windows and Doors

With all the wet weather that spring brings, wooden windows and doors can’t help but swell and stick. To repair a sticky door or window, first mark where it is sticking, next remove the door or window by taking out its hinge pins, prop it up securely, then use a hand plane to carefully remove any excess material that is causing the sticking. Power planes will also work, but they tend to remove too much wood. When the wood shrinks back during the drier, warmer days of summer, the gap will be too wide.

For sliding windows, the trim around them is often the cause of sticking. Trim must be removed and reinstalled to allow for more movement. To do this, carefully remove the trim with a flat bar and pull the nails out backwards, that is, grasp the nail point with pliers and pull. If the trim was installed properly with finishing nails, you should be able to do this without damaging the wood. When reinstalling, keep the fit snug but not as tight as it was. If you reinstall the trim too loosely, the windows will rattle when the wood shrinks again.

To keep windows and doors from sticking in the first place, make sure that they are sealed with a good coat of paint, including the tops and bottoms. But don’t paint the channels where windows need to slide. Instead, use a light coat of linseed oil as a sealer.

Painting over Water Damage

The problem with water stains is that painting over them will not make them go away unless you use a primer-sealer first. When looking for a sealer, follow these basic guidelines: First, oil-based sealers usually work better than water-based ones. Second, choose a sealer that has a high amount of solids, which are the pigments and other elements that do the actual covering of the stain. Paint, hardware and home centers carry primer-sealers, sometimes called sealer-primers.

Another tip for using an oil-based sealer is to use disposable brushes and rollers. Cleaning up after using oil-based products can be messy and often requires that you spend more on paint thinner than your brushes and rollers are worth.

Painting and Repairing Rusty Fixtures
It used to be that the only way to do a good paint job over rust was to get out the naval jelly or wire brush and remove the rust first. Thankfully, paint additives are now available to help paint stick to rust while also neutralizing the rust and stopping corrosion from continuing under the paint.

Left untreated, rust will eventually cause fixtures to lock up. Prevent this by keeping fixtures well lubricated. One of the most common mistakes people make is trying to lubricate outdoor fixtures with light oil or silicon from spray cans. Because these oils are so light, they often evaporate and/or dilute existing lubrication thereby making the problem worse. For fixtures like gate hinges and latches, use heavy grease. It will not evaporate and its high viscosity is the best thing for heavy-duty parts. Most auto parts stores have heavy grease.

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