Rotted Back Door

One of the lingering repair issues on our new house was a rotted back door jamb. It is on the porch well under the roof line. A thing I noticed though is that when it rains really hard the gutters over flow and water backs up to this door on the pool deck.

This showed up on the home inspection. I probably shouldn’t have let it go this long, but what can I say? I started chiseling away at the rot and found it was pretty heavy down low, but didn’t go too far up. The 2x4s in the walls ok. They must have some kind of treatment to help prevent rot.

Once I was done putting out the rotted stuff I squared everything up so I could start putting new material back in.

I went with a foundation of pressure treated wood with PVC wood on the outside. The thicknesses didn’t all match up in places. I don’t really care that much, this will definitely not rot.

I did some heavy calking to fill all gaps and painting to keep the wood that is left in good shape. A lot of the door seal is missing at the bottom, but I haven’t seen anything splash against this door, just the rising tide of rainwater backing up. The closet is not under AC, so the seal wouldn’t matter for that either.


I fixed the door rot, but really the root problem is water backing up on the porch. I fixed the door 2 months ago, and it took me working off and on all that time to fully address every aspect of the problem.

First off, the gutters often fill with leaf debris which causes them to backup and overflow on the porch. I have been keeping the gutters clear, but still get overflow sometimes. As it turns out, when it rains hard enough, the water has a lot of velocity coming off the roof, and it can skip out of the gutter.

Next up is the channel drains in my deck. In doing some reading, paint isn’t good for them. I noticed in places the deck paint had completely covered the drainage slits. I used a pressure washer with the narrowest stream to strip the paint off the channel drain.

That was an improvement, but they still didn’t drain well. I picked up a pressure washer drain jetter hose. It is a pressure washer hose with a bullet shaped fitting on the end that shoots water forward and backwards at an angle to help you break up clogs and flush out drains and gutters. It was messy work, but I managed to flush the years of sand and sludge from my deck channel drains.

More improvement, but still not all in the clear. It turns out a root had grown up inside the side of the drain near the rotted door. The channel would move water, but was half full of roots, and didn’t drain as quickly as it should. A lot of work later, I got the roots cleared out.

With gutters clear, paint off the drainage slits, sludge out of the channels, and roots cleared out, it seems like they drain well now. Even if it doesn’t work perfectly every time, this should flood my porch a lot less than it has in the past. I will keep an eye on the water level and check the bottom of that door for cracks. The joys of home ownership.

Smoker Rehab 2018

Two years ago I pulled my old smoker out and gave it a complete overhaul.  It needs a little help again.  Nothing dramatic, but the paint is chipping up with rust blisters in places.  Best to get to that before they become dramatic.

A heavy grit flap sander pad on my angle grinder did a good job of cleaning off the paint and exposing fresh metal.  I think I used a wire brush last time, but this works a lot better.  So much better in fact that it revealed a lot more bad paint than I had originally thought.  I had sites all over the smoker that needed grinding and repainting.

Out came the high temp primer and paint.  I basically ended up repainting 75% of the smoker.  That was a lot more dramatic that I set out to do, but I figure it is a lot cheaper than having a rusted out smoker.

With it safe from the elements for a few more years I had one trick to install.  I wanted to customize the front fold out table.  I figured some kind of Florida BBQ sign was in order.  I was going to make it look like a caution road sign, but then thought that would reflect poorly on my cooking.  Watch out for this guy’s food!

I would historically use my mill to cut a stencil from thin plywood or hardboard.  I haven’t used it in ages and need to spend a day on repairs and re-learning how to use it.  Instead I tried to 3D print a stencil.  It can make finer curves and lines anyways.

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I sprayed the back with some light hold adhesive hoping that would keep spray paint from seeping under while letting me pick the stencil back up.  I masked around it and sprayed away.

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The edges weren’t as clear as I had hoped, so for the BBQ letters I sprayed more adhesive and make sure to rub it onto the grill table really hard.  That probably would have gone ok, but I sprayed too much paint and it seeped under.  Multiple lighter passes would have worked better.  I used too much adhesive and it left residue on the table.  I will wait a few days for the paint to really cure well before hitting it with a solvent.  I also didn’t mask enough and got a little over spray on the grill.

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Up close it has a lot of issues, but from afar it isn’t bad.  All lessons learned for next time.  Maybe in 2 more years when it needs another paint touch up I will have a better plan for branding it.  The smoker will be 11 years old at that point!

Zip Tie Caddy

Zip ties are one of those magical inventions that are simple genius, and I can’t live without them.  I have a fancy zip tie gun at work that does a really good job of tensioning the tie, automatically cutting at a set point, and keeping the tail captured.  They are expensive, so I found a different design that works pretty well and is affordable by mere mortals.  This calls for a custom caddy to keep all my zip ties organized and ready to go.

I cut up some spare plywood and played around with layouts a bit.  I think this is a good size.DSC_0899

I cut out a window to make tool access easier.

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I cut some more wood for a small base.  Narrow enough to make storage easier, but wide enough to keep it from tipping.  I really like how the rounded corners turned out from my router jig.

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I gave the two pieces a good painting and assembled.  I picked the color scheme of the zip tie tool.  The black zip ties contrast nicely against the orange background.

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To attach each zip tie bundle I used a zip tie that can be screwed down.  That looped into a zip tie around the bundle.  As you pull ties out you just tighten the bundle to keep things tight.

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It holds a variety of lengths and sizes along with my colorful re-useable ties and the screw down ones.  Plenty of room to grow too.

The handle was printed to match my hand size and keep with the color scheme.  Same deal with the zip tie tool holder.

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Living Room Renovation

Another holiday break has rolled around which means it is time for me to get off of work and kick my own butt with some serious house renovations!  This year, the living room.  The before pictures make it look a little more like a dark dungeon than it really was, but not much more.  Dark paint, dark flooring and light bulbs that were a little under powered.

The remainder of the vinyl flooring came up, and the paint came down.  Originally in the house a roll on orange peel texture was added.  I don’t know if it reached the end of its life, or wasn’t mixed well or what.  It was turning to powder, and the paint would peel off in sheets if you looked at it wrong.  I peeled it all off and sanded the texture right back down to the drywall.

Lots of hole patching, and a coat of primer later and the walls are starting to look a lot nicer.  The previous owner had used a considerable number of drywall anchors for me to fill!  I was able to finish a majority of the tile in a day which meant I couldn’t do anything else… Time to go see Star Wars!

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With the tile able to be walked on I finished the painting, worked on trim, and eventually did the grout.  Grout and baseboards really make the room feel like something.

There always ends up being a day of painting trim, touching up this, reinstalling covers on that and such.  Worth all the little efforts.

Finally after a little over a week of solid work we were able to push the big soft couches back into our little space.  I missed our comfortable evening hangout spot more than I thought I would.

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This room feels a thousand times brighter.  The light tile, bright walls and new phillips daylight LED bulbs make it feel like a million bucks.  Not bad considering the material cost was only about 700 bucks.  Now, by contrast, our kitchen looks even worse.  Oh well, next year’s project!

Foyer/Dining/Front Room Renovation

Labor day week was a week of serious labor.  I renovated half of the great room in my house.  It is composed of the foyer, the front room, and a dining room.  The only surviving picture of the previous room shows the green walls.  There were small grey boring tiles in the foyer, and poor quality faux wood vinyl flooring in the rest of the areas.  The vinyl had been scratched by typical wear and the previous owner’s dogs.   About half the walls had some kind of splotchy skip troweling done to them.  It didn’t look good.

I re-mudded the walls with the texture issue and was able to get them flat enough for most people not to notice.  Various other holes were patched in the process.  Peeling up vinyl flooring is much easier when you rent a machine built for that purpose.  The remaining glue was a mostly hands and knees kind of job.  It took nearly a whole day to scrape it all clean.  Tile and paint went down with out too many issues, just a lot of backbreaking labor.  Last but not least I replaced the dog chewed blinds, all the baseboard, and repainted some of the existing dark wood trim to match the rest of the molding.

All in all it felt like an insane amount of work at the time, but in retrospect always seems worth the effort.  Now I just need to muster the time and energy to tackle the living room and kitchen.  The joys of home ownership!

-Chase