Cleaning and maintaining the exterior of your house is an important part of home ownership. We’re tackling some common home maintenance projects.
Watch this video to find out how to:
- Exterior Cleaning: Use a Generac OneWash pressure washer to clean vinyl siding, eaves, shutters, fences, decks, and sidewalks.
- Rotten Door Sill: Remove and replace a rotten entry door sill and metal threshold.
- Sagging Fence Gate: Repair a sagging fence gate by installing a new fence post, secure the post with Quikrete fast setting concrete mix, and using an anti-sag gate kit to square up the gate.
- Cracked Concrete Block Foundation: Fill cracked concrete block foundation joints with mortar repair caulk and seal the inside of the basement walls with masonry waterproofer.
- Pressure Washer Cleaning Tips (video)
- How to Replace a Rotten Entry Door Sill (video)
- Repairing a Sagging Fence Gate (video)
- Applying Masonry Sealer to Basement Walls (video)
Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re helping you get your home ready for spring by making the most of maintenance.
Drew Plash: Don’t tell my wife I said this. She was washing the patio, and this ka-boom happened.
Danny Lipford: This week, on Today’s Homeowner we’re focusing on maintenance.
Roseanne Plash: We’ve been here for 27 years this month.
Danny Lipford: Drew and Roseanne Plash are very active do-it-yourselfers who have more than a little experience in home ownership.
Drew Plash: We’re both house people. We love decorating and working in the yard and doing things to the house. So we’re always finding new projects to do.
Roseanne Plash: Well, I think every room in has been painted five or six times since we moved here. We have renovated a bathroom upstairs, and we added a full bath downstairs. We have updated the kitchen.
Drew Plash: And then originally the front door we did change that and put a, you know, much prettier front door in a few years ago. And we also covered the concrete slab out front.
Danny Lipford: But what about the downside of owning a more mature home?
Drew Plash: There’s a lot of maintenance. There’s always something that needs to be redone, reworked.
Roseanne Plash: The maintenance part is not nearly as much fun as the cosmetic part. So sometimes we have to put that first.
Danny Lipford: So we’re here to help handle some of those not so fun chores that just need to be done.
Drew Plash: Yeah, Danny, here’s one of the things I was talking about. You can see how this crack has developed along the concrete blocks there.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, it looks like a little bit of settling there, huh?
Drew Plash: Yeah, and you can see the sidewalk has dropped some, obviously couple inches down here.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, absolutely.
Drew Plash: It’s been a gradual ongoing thing. I think one thing that’s contributed to it, until just recently when I put a new roof on, I didn’t have any guttering up on that upper level.
Danny Lipford: Oh, a lot of water coming down from it.
Drew Plash: And so it would just sheets would just pour down here.
Danny Lipford: Are you having any water problems inside?
Drew Plash: Yeah, we do have a slow seepage problem.
Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah.
Drew Plash: Especially after those days where it rains, you know, two or three days in a row really heavy. It makes a huge, big mess here.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’s aggravating and not really very healthy.
Drew Plash: Well and my garage is like most people’s you know, full of more stuff than cars, it makes a huge mess. But I think a big contributing factor to this settling and seepage problem is about 20 years ago, my neighbor’s Bronco rammed into the house. Walk and let me show you something out here.
Danny Lipford: A Bronco?
Drew Plash: Yeah. About 20 years ago, my neighbor’s Bronco rolled backwards down the cul-de-sac opposite us here, turned in that neighbor’s yard and then rolled backwards over here and came here between these two trees and then kept on rolling and took out that lower portion of the concrete block down there.
Danny Lipford: Now, no one was in it?
Drew Plash: Nobody was in it. When it came to rest it was backwards into the house, it was locked and it was in park.
Danny Lipford: Really?
Drew Plash: So it was one of those freaky things. Fortunately no one was hurt. The boom when it hit the house was huge. Don’t tell my wife I said this, but she was washing the patio, and this ka-boom happened. And my first thought was she had slipped on the patio. And then I realized, it was much too big a boom for that.
Danny Lipford: Well, either way that wouldn’t have been good either.
Drew Plash: That would not have been good.
Danny Lipford: You said you’d been here about 20 something years. Did you install the vinyl siding at some point?
Drew Plash: No, the vinyl siding had been done shortly before we bought the house.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, yeah. That’s great to have. You know they talk about it being maintenance-free. Not exactly maintenance-free, is it?
Drew Plash: No, it not maintenance-free. It’s low maintenance.
Danny Lipford: Right.
Drew Plash: One problem I have is this is a northern exposure.
Danny Lipford: Right.
Drew Plash: And this time of year with the moisture and the coldness and everything, it really starts turning green and getting dirty looking.
Danny Lipford: Right.
Drew Plash: So, it has to be washed usually at least once a year.
Danny Lipford: I got you. And what about some of the other things around here? So many times when we talk to homeowners they’ll have just a, just one thing that just aggravates them all the time that maybe needs just a little adjustment. Do you have anything like that?
Drew Plash: I have a gate. It’s right over there.
Danny Lipford: Well, let’s take a look at it.
Drew Plash: You know, Danny, one problem I have got over here is this gate has sagged down.
Danny Lipford: Oh, boy. It sure has.
Drew Plash: You can see how much here and it won’t even lock anymore.
Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, those things are notorious for that. They’re heavy and also a lot of times the corner post will shift a little bit. So we can get to level and see if that shifted or the gate sagged or most likely both of those things have happened. But I got a few tools that we can get started on here.
You can see a lot of the things that Drew’s facing on the outside of his home are very common problems. And we’re going to guide him through the steps of getting it taken care of at his house, and along the way share some great tips for you on some of the things you may be facing. Hey, let’s get started here.
Drew Plash: All right.
Joe Truini: Some of my favorite Simple Solution ideas come from viewers like you, and here’s one. When you’re raking up leaves and dumping them into a trash can that has a bag in it, often the weight of the leaves will pull the bag into the can—especially if the leaves are wet.
But here’s the tip—this comes from Mikayla Kary. Get a bicycle inner tube, this is an 18” tube, and use it like a giant rubber band to hold the bag to the can. Just stretch it over the bag like that. And then you just rake up the leaves and dump them in.
And what you’ll find is that if the inner tube is stretched nice and tight, it’ll keep the bag from slipping in. This happened to be an 18-inch bicycle inner tube. And they come in sizes up to about 26” in diameter, so I’m sure you can find one to fit your garbage can.
Danny Lipford: This week, we’re helping Drew and Roseanne Plash make the most of maintenance on their 50-year-old home. The first chore is much-needed power washing. So, I’m getting set up for that.
This new one-wash system from Generac is ideal for DIYers like Drew because it has plenty of power for tough jobs, like cleaning concrete. But it’ll let you dial the power back for other surfaces, like this vinyl siding.
Drew Plash: Okay, Danny, I’m ready.
Danny Lipford: All right, great. You have done a little power washing before, that’s great! Goggles, hood and, oh, and I love the boots. This is great.
Drew Plash: Yeah, shades of Bayou La Batre.
Danny Lipford: Alright, here you go.
Drew Plash: Alright
Danny Lipford: We got you there. I’ll fire it up. We’ll be ready to put some soap on.
Danny Lipford: For the uninitiated, Bayou La Batre is the fishing village made famous in the film Forrest Gump. Since Drew comes from a fishing family, it all fits, even if the rain suit doesn’t.
Drew’s starting from the bottom and working up to apply the cleaning solution. I’ll handle the second story since Roseanne was very specific about the danger of letting Drew get near any roof.
Roseanne Plash: I won’t let him get on the roof. No. I can’t afford for him to get on the roof.
Danny Lipford: Once everything is coated with soap, we change tips and begin the cleaning, this time working from the top to the bottom to blast away the dirt and the mildew. In pretty short order, the house, vents, and sidewalk are clean, so we can start on the next project.
All right, Drew, let’s take a look at this. I’ll tell you, I looked at it earlier, and definitely we got plenty of rot in there.
Drew Plash: All out in there.
Danny Lipford: Not too bad but we still have to remove it. And then of course your threshold looking a little old here, so we’ll be able to replace all of that. But I’ll tell you what I’ll do.
I’ll go ahead and start removing this and see just what we have to get into. But I saw Allen working on that fence over there and he has a shovel with your name on it.
Drew Plash: Oh, okay.
Danny Lipford: So you might want to check in with him over there.
Drew Plash: Will do.
Allen Lyle: Hey, Drew.
Drew Plash: Hey, Allen.
Allen Lyle: Wow!
Drew Plash: Yeah.
Allen Lyle: Yeah, look at this. You see… Let’s get that plumb and you see how far out that’s, that’s a lot.
Drew Plash: Yeah, no wonder it’s been sagging so.
Allen Lyle: Yeah, yeah. And I tell you a lot of people will actually do a gate sag kit. And they work. I’m not knocking them. They work. It’s not going to raise two inches on this though.
Drew Plash: Yeah.
Allen Lyle: I think we need to attack the problem. And it’s this post here.
Drew Plash: Push the post that way.
Allen Lyle: See if can get the post back over. We’ll try if we can push it that way, wedge some bricks down in there, pour some more concrete, and see if that’ll help.
Drew Plash: All right.
Allen Lyle: Okay.
Drew Plash: Sounds good.
Danny Lipford: Meanwhile, the biggest challenge to removing the worn metal threshold is the paint caked over the rusty screws that hold it in place.
But the rotten piece of wood beneath it is a little bigger challenge, so I’ll have to cut it into pieces for removal, and once it’s gone it reveals a void that, well, we just didn’t expect.
Now at this point a lot of people may panic because all of a sudden I’m finding pieces of wood, I’m finding water. Of course it probably came from the power washing. I’m finding all kinds of rot.
It’s not as bad as you might think because, you know, I suspect that Allen’s going to need a little concrete to fix the fence over there. And we’ll buy just a little bit extra, and I’ll be able to fill this in like it should have been done many, many years ago. So no big deal.
Allen Lyle: Okay, Drew. Here’s what we got.
Drew Plash: Yeah.
Allen Lyle: The post isn’t just leaning completely, we’ve almost got a curve to it. So the top has come in but the bottom’s not.
Drew Plash: Bottom hasn’t.
Allen Lyle: We try to do anything down here, it’s not going to help us. So, here’s what I’m thinking. Let’s get a board. We’re going to attach a two-by here as a brace, pull it back.
Drew Plash: Okay.
Allen Lyle: To where we need it. And then we’ll come on the inside and put a new 4×4 post. Plumb, completely plumb. We know it’s right.
Drew Plash: Mmm-hmm.
Allen Lyle: And then we’ll attach that existing one to the new one.
Drew Plash: To that.
Allen Lyle: Then we’ll put the anti-sag gate kit on here as well, kind of double up.
Drew Plash: Uh-huh. Pull it back up.
Allen Lyle: I think that’ll be it.
Drew Plash: Sounds good to me.
Danny Lipford: By the time we get the post level and remove some of the old concrete to allow room for the new post, it’s getting late. Roseanne has returned home from work to check out our progress, and it’s time to call it a day so we can start fresh in the morning.
Once Allen gets the new post lined up, we’re ready to mix concrete.
And there you are.
Drew Plash: Thank you, sir.
Danny Lipford: Give you a try at that. I think I’ll go over and get that threshold ready to go.
Drew Plash: All right.
Danny Lipford: Since I’ll be pouring concrete along finished surfaces, I have a little more prep to do than Allen and Drew, because they’re simply dumping it in the hole around the two posts to hold them in place.
Allen Lyle: Hey, Danny! How soupy do you like yours? Soupy?
Danny Lipford: Not Soupy
Allen Lyle: Not soupy? Okay. It’s pretty soupy.
Drew Plash: You could get a slotted spoon from the kitchen to dig this. Dig this out.
Allen Lyle: All right, so let that set up.
Drew Plash: I get to stand here for the next two hours.
Allen Lyle: Two and a half tops.
Drew Plash: Okay. I thought this was quick setting.
Allen Lyle: All right, Danny.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, man, I’m ready.
Allen Lyle: All right.
Danny Lipford: All right. You left me enough?
Allen Lyle: Yeah, it’s really more of a goulash than a soup, but it’s there.
Danny Lipford: Hey, you didn’t do that trick on Drew like you always do about holding the fence post, did you?
Allen Lyle: Yeah, he’ll be there a while.
Danny Lipford: He’ll figure it out after a while.
Danny Lipford: With just a few shovels of concrete, we can fill this void in no time.
So, Allen finally told you, you really didn’t have to hold the post over there.
Drew Plash: Yeah, after quite a while though. I won’t listen to him again.
Danny Lipford: He does that all the time. I’ll tell you what, let’s . . . I’m pretty much through with this, I’m going to let it set up, and I’ll put that wood sill in here. And then I picked this up—this new threshold.
Drew Plash: Oh, okay.
Danny Lipford: So I’ll be able to position it right under there. While I’m working on this, I thought you could attack this right here.
Drew Plash: Oh, okay.
Danny Lipford: So, if you take this and just go along. And you don’t have to do a lot of chiseling, but just get that open. And then anything that’s loose at all, pull it out of there. And then we’ll fill the whole thing in with a great caulking that I have that’s made for this.
So if you want to go ahead and take care of that, and if you need the hammer to chip away at it a little bit, you can do that. And I’ll go ahead and start working on that wood sill.
Drew Plash: All right. Sounds great.
Jodi Marks: You may think that a shovel is a shovel and that a rake is a rake, but not necessarily. Take a look at the new line that’s rolled out by Ames, this is their Razor-Back line. And we’ve got a shovel, a rake, and we also have a tamp that they’ve added to their line.
But I’m just going to kind of nutshell it for you. All of these tools have steel construction. They’re heavy-duty. They’re professional grade. So you can use them out on the job or you can bring them home and use them in your own yard.
What I like the best about the shovel here is, look at this extra long extended socket. So that’s going to give you more leverage when you’re trying to pry up anything. And also look at this step here, you’ve got a wider platform so that you can have more push when you’re trying to break difficult soil.
This has also been reinforced as well, and all of them have this padded handle, which I really like, and even the tamp. This is the first time I’ve seen a tamp really with a padded handle. This is all one-piece construction, so you know you’re getting a durable product.
It’s really strong. Like I said it’s professional grade, and it’s going to bang out those outdoor projects in no time.
Danny Lipford: Our adventure in home maintenance with Drew and Roseanne Plash is coming along pretty well. The cleaning is done and Drew and Allen set a new post to prop up the sagging gate while I attacked the rotten threshold at the front door.
Then Drew started the repair on the cinder block foundation wall to solve a moisture problem in Drew’s basement, while we applied some waterproofing sealant to the inside of the basement walls.
Back outside the Quikrete Fast Setting concrete we used on the threshold and fence has dried now, so that an anti-sag kit can go on the gate to pull it back into square. Then, the two posts need to be connected with lag bolts.
Allen Lyle: What I would do is, I need five holes, symmetrically placed.
Drew Plash: Okay.
Allen Lyle: I’ll have a ruler later.
Drew Plash: You going to judge me, huh? Okay.
Allen Lyle: No, just five.
Drew Plash: We’re going to see how good I am.
Danny Lipford: While Drew does that, Allen and I are creating the new wood threshold by using the old one as our template.
The fence is getting wrapped up, the threshold piece is ready, and now we’re ready to complete the foundation wall.
Boy, you got quite a bit out of there, didn’t you?
Drew Plash: Yeah. It’s a lot bigger hole that I was expecting.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’s the way to do it. Clean that up. I’ll go ahead and put this wood threshold in here.
Drew Plash: Okay, good.
Allen Lyle: I got everything we need here, Drew.
Drew Plash: All right.
Allen Lyle: All right, what we’ve got… I thought so. A little deeper than I anticipated. I got some backer rod. I don’t know if you’ve ever used it before.
Drew Plash: Uh-uh, I haven’t.
Allen Lyle: It’s just foam. The only reason we’re doing this is because you don’t want to fill that with just the mortar that goes in here.
Drew Plash: Uh-huh.
Allen Lyle: Cause it would be too thick, it will dry unevenly, it’ll crack, it’ll shrink too much. This gives it something to adhere to, without using too much.
Drew Plash: Okay.
Danny Lipford: While they fill that gap, I’ve managed to get the wood threshold in place, installed the new metal threshold seal, caulk around it, and even annoy Allen in the process.
We also used the mortar caulk to seal the gap between the sidewalk and foundation wall.
Well, Drew, I’ll tell you what. Sealing up the crack here where the sidewalk meets the wall as well, as the other crack, has got to help keep all of that water out of your basement.
Drew Plash: And it was a whole lot easier than I ever thought it would have been.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, it’s not too bad as long as you clean it and of course the right type of concrete repair caulk. Also, hopefully, the sealer inside will help kind of repel that water.
Drew Plash: Yeah, well, it’s bound to have made an improvement in all of this.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, absolutely. Now the French drain that you did a few years ago was the right idea to move that water that’s ponding up right here.
But I’ll tell you, when you look at it from this angle, you can still see there’s a lot of water coming down from that front yard that’s going to pond against this house.
Drew Plash: Right.
Danny Lipford: And so I’ll tell you what. Allen’s getting us some top soil, and we’ll be able to rake this back and put the soil right on the foundation wall here to discourage that from around. So I think you I can grab a rake and kind of handle pulling this back a little bit.
Drew Plash: All right. That’s a pretty direct hint about a rake, huh?
Danny Lipford: Once we have the mulch raked back and the load of dirt pulled closer to the house, it’s time for the real work to begin.
By tossing the soil against the wall along its length and then raking it out at an angle, we’re creating a berm that will push water away from the house while it travels downhill toward the drive. Once we have the slope we want, we can pack it down with our feet to firm it up.
Danny Lipford: And then Allen if you want to go around right behind him, and start sprinkling the pine straw that’s all ready, that we swept back. Just kind of, either with a rake or your hands to, or your foot or whatever, just to kind of kick it over here. Then we’ll hose off the wall before we put any new pine straw on it.
This water will also help compact our berm, so that it stays put to protect Drew’s basement.
So, Drew, I’ll bet you didn’t know that much water was sitting in here, so, it’s a lot lower than you probably thought.
Drew Plash: Yeah, it was. I was surprised, but I can see where you’re banking it up and the angle’s going to really help it a lot.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, and this pine straw will hold it together, too. You might have to add a little bit more after this deteriorates a little bit, but I believe you’re going to be in good shape.
Drew Plash: Oh, great. I appreciate it, Danny.
Danny Lipford: Yeah, man.
Danny Lipford: Now that we have Drew’s problem solved, let’s answer one of your questions.
Danny Lipford: Janet asks, “How can I stop my outside water faucet from leaking?”
If you have an outside faucet that just won’t stop dripping, well, it’s great drip irrigation for any trees or plants you may have around your house; but you’ll end up spending a lot of money on your water bill.
Lot of times it’s very easy to fix by simply taking a pair of pliers and tightening that packing nut directly behind the handle.
Many times, that’s all you need. But, if not, you’ll need to cut the water off at the street to turn all water off to the house. Then back that same nut off and remove the handle and the stem.
You’ll find a washer right on the end of that that’s probably compressed or damaged in some way. You simply remove the screw, take the washer off, and replace it.
And when you buy that washer maybe pick up a couple extra ones. They’re very inexpensive and you’ll have a few spares if this kind of thing happens again. Then 99% of the time, you’ll be good.
Danny Lipford: Shortly after we completed our maintenance projects at Drew and Roseanne’s house, the area got hit by a rare late-season snowfall. Thankfully, it was short-lived and had no ill-effects on the repairs we made. It just gave the house a little different look for a few days.
Well, I’ll tell you what. I thought we were getting ahead of the spring, but then this happened. Really unusual, huh?
Roseanne Plash: Very, for this area.
Danny Lipford: We were able to find that little window of nice weather to be able to get a lot of the maintenance stuff done. You know the pressure washing, the taking care of that rotten wood.
Now you can have, you know once the spring weather gets here, you can have an opportunity to do maybe some more fun things. Right?
Drew Plash: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. You know, I’ve got a lot of yard work that needs to be done.
Danny Lipford: Mmm-hmm.
Drew Plash: Lot of landscaping. Maybe put some stepping stones under the gate, now that it’s fixed.
Danny Lipford: Mmm-hmm. Great. Well, it’s been great working with you guys and I’m glad we were able to get a few things done while we had that good weather.
Thanks for being with us this week. I hope you’ll be with us next week, right here, on Today’s Homeowner. I’m Danny Lipford. It’s amazing that it won’t go away here in the shade.
Allen Lyle: Yeah, babe.
Danny Lipford: Yeah.
Allen Lyle: You’ve heard of people who play the spoons? I play the trowel.