Q: We are trying to replace a plain, solid-wood, paint-grade, 8-foot outside door on a home we are trying to sell. The old hinges are different from what’s common today. I am not sure if this could be changed or not. Do you know what we should do? –Jim E.
A: Your best bet would be to have a door company make you up a new door to fit. If possible, take the door off the hinges and take it into the door company so they can measure it for you. If that’s impractical, talk to the door company first and ask them what measurements they will need, and do the measuring yourself. There are actually several measurements to take, including height, width, exact hinge locations, hinge backset and more, so be sure to get a list from them.
You can then select any door style you like that will fit the opening. They will cut it to an exact size, including mortising to fit the existing hinges and knob. All you need to do from there is remove the old hinges from the old door and install them on the new door, then re-hang the new door on the existing frame — no need to mess with the old frame or try to find new hinges.
You can find door companies in the Yellow Pages under "doors."
Q: I have some cast-iron plumbing fittings in a house that was built in 1961. My father told me about the hemp/pine tar and lead in the joints, and I was surprised to see the "lead" scrape off with a screwdriver.
I am attempting to install one of those recessed water and drain boxes for a washer machine and need to turn the Tee sideways into the wall. I hope to accomplish the feat with a long pipe. I am hoping the vent pipe will turn with it. If I can accomplish the turn, how do I reseal the original seal? Can I just pack the soil cement back down to make it water tight? –Sam M.
A: You have a couple of options. You can try turning the fitting, but first of all it probably won’t turn, and secondly you run the risk of loosening other fittings in the string, creating new leaks. Also, if you do get the fitting to turn, you will then need to clean out the fitting as much as possible — remember you’re dealing with old lead, so use all the EPA guidelines for dealing with this material — then repack it with oakum and seal it with soil cement.
A better method, and your only option if the fitting won’t turn, is to cut out the old fitting. You can do that with a chain cutter, which you can rent. The cutter is simply wrapped around the pipe, pressure is exerted, and the pipe will snap where the chain is. If you have enough room, there are also power cutters you can rent.
Make a cut above and below the old fitting, then remove the fitting. Install new ABS pipe and fittings as needed, which are connected to the old cast iron using rubber sleeves that are secured with screw-tightened metal bands. Once you have the new ABS fitting in place, connecting your new laundry box will be considerably easier.
All of the parts and fittings you need are available at any retailer of plumbing supplies.
Q: I have a problem with my gas furnace. Sometimes the igniter will not light up to turn on the burner, and the LED light will blink a 1 long and 3 short signal. I will turn off and on the thermostat to clear the signal and it will eventually light the burner. I have called a couple companies and one told me that if the igniter is cracked, I won’t be able to get any heat at all. The service department said it might be the board and it could cost up to $500 to have it replaced. Can you give me some idea what could be the problem? –Karina C.
A: I would tend to think that one of the computer control boards is defective, and your furnace and thermostat are not "talking" to each other the way they should. A cracked igniter is also a possibility, but what you describe sounds more like an electronic problem. You need to contact a service technician who works on your particular brand of furnace, and have them come out to your house. They can interpret the meaning of that particular signal, and run some other diagnostic tests as well. An on-site inspection of the furnace and the thermostat is the only way to determine the problem and make the necessary repairs.
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