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Around the House: Don't get heated over air conditioning issues

Around the House: Don't get heated over air conditioning issues

Around the House: Don't get heated over air conditioning issues
By Ken Moon Special to The Gazette
Jun 19, 2021
One simple way to seal a garage door gap is screwing another layer of weather stripping to the door.
Christian Murdock, The Gazette
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Dear Ken: I’m wondering what’s wrong with my central air. We have it set at 72, but the house stays in the 80s. Do we need to get it checked? — Marti
Answer: Probably, but here are some things to do first. Make sure the furnace filter is clean; it needs to be changed at least once a month in the summer. Also, check that you haven’t blocked cold air return grilles. Air conditioning, even more than heating, requires generous and unopposed air flow through the furnace.
Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the cool air flow through the floor vents. It should be 18 to 20 degrees colder than the flow through the cold air return grille. If it’s much less than that, you might need more refrigerant in the lines, or the coils on top of the furnace might be dirty. These are not DIY items so call an HVAC contractor.
P.S.: Don’t forget my recommendation to turn the fan to the ON position in the afternoon to mix the (cold and warm) air masses in the house. That might help lower the upstairs temperature.
Around the House: Whole house fan can help cut air conditioning costs
By Ken Moon Special to The Gazette
Dear Ken: I want to spiff up the bath. Who should I call to regrout my shower? A handyman or a tile store? — Tanya
Answer: Have a tile store recommend someone who does small jobs such as yours. But regrouting a shower is one of those homeowner jobs that you can do yourself and get great results, even if you don’t have prior experience. You’ll need a grout saw — a tool with an angled handle and replaceable blades. Use it to remove the top 1/8 inch or so of old material. Then buy a tub of premixed grout at the hardware store and apply it with a large sponge or grouting trowel. You’ll get the hang of it quickly and, after you rinse the wall and polish it, I promise you’ll be proud of the results.
Around the House: How to keep a wandering washer off the dance floor
By Ken Moon Special to The Gazette
Dear Ken: I thought I heard you mention that wider gutters are a good idea. Please provide details. — Roger
Answer: It was common in the “old days” — especially with those now out-of-date T-lock shingles — to use cheap, 4-inch galvanized steel gutters. But they sometimes don’t perform well catching overflow during strong thunderstorms. That’s as bad as having no gutters since that water can soak into the soil under the house and cause structural havoc.
Now, the minimum recommendation is 5-inch gutters for shingled homes and even 6-inch gutters with tile or heavy asphalt. I prefer the pre-painted aluminum style. They are extruded on site into whatever lengths you need along each side of the house. That way, there are no seams to leak.
Around the House: Is your garage too hot in the summer? Here's how to chill out
By Ken Moon Special to The Gazette
Dear Ken: I have a garage door problem. What can I do to close the gap underneath? Also, what about painting it? It is metal of some sort. — Connie
Answer: Over time, the concrete floor in the garage can shift so there is no longer a tight fit under the door. That can let cold air, leaves and dirt — not to mention mice and other pests — into the garage. One easy way to seal the gap is to screw another layer of rubber weather stripping to the door. Most home centers have a garage door repair section, and you can buy the right length to close the space. The new (thicker) stripping will squeeze down onto the lower floor and seal the crack.
You could apply a layer or two of regular latex paint, but first go to a name-brand paint store and get a suggestion for the right metal surface primer. Power wash the door first, prime it according to the manufacturer’s recommendation and then apply latex to match or contrast with the existing color scheme.
Around the House: Tips for painting your fireplace
By Ken Moon Special to The Gazette
Dear Ken: We don’t have an outside plug so we end up plugging lights into one of those sockets screwed into the porch light. But it isn’t grounded. What else can we do? — Darnell
Answer: Those sockets aren’t meant to carry much current, especially the 10 amps or more demanded from several strings of Christmas lights. Also, as you indicate, there is no GFCI grounded protection for the outside circuit.
It’s not as hard as you think to cut in an exterior outlet. Go to the most appropriate interior outlet, remove the cover and cut away some sheetrock around the edges. Then you can see where to drill a hole through the outside wall. That will allow you to pull wires into a new surface mount weatherproof box. Install a GFCI outlet into that box, and you’re in business.
Picking the right location for the hole is a bit tricky; for instance, if you slice existing wires you’re in big trouble. If you’re at all unsure, this is best left to an electrician.
What about the now-bigger hole around the interior outlet? You can purchase an over-sized cover plate that will conceal the gaps you cut in the wall.
Around the House: Don't retire water heater too soon
By Ken Moon Special to The Gazette
Dear Ken: I have hot water issues: low volume on the hot side while the cold water is fine. Any ideas? — Terry
Answer: Single lever faucets — in a shower or at the kitchen sink — can be susceptible to decreased volume. If there is a spring or a rubber washer loose inside, the sudden onrush of hot water can swell these out-of-position parts enough to cause a volume disruption. With some brands, you can buy a bag of small parts and rebuild the faucet; with others, such as Moen or Price-Pfister, you simply insert a new cartridge containing all the innards of the faucet.
Ken Moon is a home inspector in the Pikes Peak region. His call-in radio show airs at 4 p.m. Saturdays on KRDO, FM 105.5 and AM 1240. Visit aroundthehouse.com