At the beginning of each new season we break out our 4 Seasons of Home Ownership list to help homeowners tackle the chores that are important for that season. We shared the fall checklist with Phillip and Kate DeKeyser to help them get their home ready for fall, and for a new baby on the way.
This 1940s house is special because Phillip purchased it from his grandfather’s estate, and it’s where he proposed to Kate. Repairing and maintaining an older home can be overwhelming, but breaking down the tasks into seasonal lists make them much more manageable.
Many of the chores on the fall checklist are quick jobs, like changing air filters and replacing worn weather stripping around windows and doors. Others, such as winterizing the lawn mower or cleaning the gutters, may take a little more time.
But often, reviewing the list brings to light other projects that need to be done, like repairing Phillip’s folding attic stairs and replacing one of the entry doors. We also noticed a cracked window that needed to be replaced by professionals, so we enlisted the help of our friends from Mobile Glass to make the repair.
Repairing Folding Attic Stairs
Phillip and his father had installed the attic stairs, but the stairs were too long and off-centered, making them not work properly.
After I made a few measurements we got started on removing the screws that held the attic door in place – and trust me, there were a ton of them. Next, we removed the old spacers around the opening and added new, equally sized spacers on ALL sides of the opening, so the stairway would be perfectly centered.
On the hinge side of the opening we attached a temporary support to make installing the door a little easier. Once the door was in the right position, we re-secured it to the framing.
To get the length of the ladder right we used the adjustable feet as a guide to cut off the aluminum legs at the proper angle. Then we re-attached the feet to the ladder, so it landed in the perfect position. Finally, we added a plywood door; so it not only functioned properly, it looked better from below, too.
Watch How to Hang Attic Stairs for step-by-step-instructions.
After repairing the folding attic stairway, we added Roxul ComfortBatt stone wool insulation to the attic as well as an attic stairway cover from Duck Brand to seal the draft.
Replacing an Entry Door
The back door of their home was oddly sized, didn’t open or close easily, and had a sizable gap at the bottom. First, we removed the hinges to take the old door off the frame. Then we cut the caulk around each piece of door trim to make it easier to pry them out of the opening without damaging the surrounding materials.
Entry doors should be at least 36 inches wide, so we replaced the old door with a new door unit that meets those standards. After we secured the new door unit to the framing of the wall, we added strips of insulation to fill in the voids around the door.
Rather than using wood that is bound to rot over time, we used cellular PVC to trim around the new door unit.
The new door doesn’t look out of place on their old home, and the window with enclosed blinds brings in lots of natural light.
Check out How to Remove and Replace an Entry Door for details.
Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Tip for Cutting Bolts to Size
If a bolt is too long, you can use a cordless drill and a hacksaw to cut it down to the exact length you need. Watch the video.
Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
EGO Cordless Backpack Leaf Blower
EGO’s lithium ion cordless backpack blower moves up to 600 cubic feet of air per minute and is 8 times quieter than gas-powered backpack blowers. It is available at The Home Depot.
Watch the video.
We go through the 4 Seasons of Home Ownership fall checklist with Phillip and Kate DeKeyser to help them get their 1940s home ready for fall.
Check out the episode article for more info on everything we tackled in the DeKeysers’ home.
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