Do It Yourself Knowledge

Because life ain't cheap…

Archive for August, 2008

Fixing a leaning fence post (Metal fence post)

Posted by diynovice on August 21, 2008

The proper way to fix a leaning post is to dig up the leaning post and replace it.  But, when multiple fence posts and tree roots are involved, fixing the problem may become more difficult.  The fence post can be dug up, but some of the tree roots could be damaged, jeopardizing its health.  So, an alternative is to pull the fence straight.  Most likely, if the leaning post is very stiff and leaning, it is caused by a root.  Otherwise, it could be caused by unstable soil.  Either way, straightening the post may take a very long time, and may not be permanent.

Time: initially 2 hours
Cost: $50
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
Tools required: Sledge hammer, side cutters
Material required:
1. Support Posts: 2” diameter pipe, 12” to 16” long (the bigger the diameter, and the longer the pipe, the better)
2. Turnbuckle
3. Wire: The wire was rated to 150lbs, and thin enough to be workable.  Since high loads will potentially be held by the wire, it is highly recommended that the wire is doubled up.


1. Two support posts were used because 1 most likely will be pulled toward the fence, instead of the other way around.  To position the two support posts, the height of the fence post was measured, and was 6 feet.   The support posts were put in at a 45° from the top of the fence post, two feet on either side of the post.

2. The Support posts were hammered into the ground at a slight angle.
Note: Be careful of any buried cables or gas lines and wear eye protection!

3. Wire line was wrapped around the top of the post

4. The wire line was then twisted by hand to double it up.

5. A turnbuckle was added.

6. The wire line was attached from the supports to the turnbuckle.  The wire was looped around one post, strung through the turnbuckle, and then looped around the other post.  Using a screw driver, the wire was twisted to tighten it up.

7. The turnbuckle was tightened until the post could not be pulled by hand toward the supports.  To tighten the center post, the tree next to the fence was temporarily used as an anchor by wrapping a rope around the tree and the top of the post.  In a tourniquet style, the rope was tightened.

8. After about a week, the posts had shifted and became “shakable.”  The turnbuckle was tightened.  When the turnbuckle maxed out, the wire running from the fence post to the turnbuckle was removed, the turnbuckle lengthened, and the wire was restrung.  This was repeated many times in the coming months, until the post was straight.


10. After a month, two of the three posts were straightened.  The middle post still was not budging.  The anchors were being pulled toward the fence.  Therefore, the support posts holding up the third fence post were removed, and added to the second fence post.

11. After one year, the fence is finally straight, but, the wire supports are still needed to keep it straight.


Posted in Exterior, Fence Repair | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Home Siding Repair – Squirrel damage to the Chimney

Posted by diynovice on August 7, 2008

Some squirrels got into my chimney sometime in the early spring, and apparently had a family.  They were getting into the chimney through a small gap at the top of the chimney.  Now, I would like to think that the wife squirrel got annoyed having to climb up the chimney to the hole, and then climb down into the chimney, so she nagged her husband squirrel to make a new entrance.  So, now, I have a hole in the side of my chimney.

[When I discovered the hole, I didn’t have much time to fix it, so, in trying to figure out a quick fix, I squared the hole out and I forgot to take a picture (there was rain coming!)]


Since this is a two-story house, estimates for repair were well over $500, and that was to just cover the hole up and paint it.  So, if you have good insurance, or you just hate the world, this may help you fix your problem.


Time: 14 hours
Cost: $100
(add another $50 to rent a ladder.)
Difficulty: 5 out of 5
Tools required: Drill, screwdriver, jig saw, hammer, paint brush, tape measure
Material Info: Masonite siding is a cheap siding used on many homes.  But, it can be hard to find.  Home Depot and Lowes do not carry it.  I found that 84 Lumber carries it, and sells it in 32 foot lengths.

 – If you don’t have a 30 foot ladder lying around, you can rent them for about $50 a day from Home Depot or Lowes.
 – When climbing on the roof, follow the peaks or valleys.  If you can’t follow a peak or valley, try crab walking around.  This way, you can use your butt as a break.
 – Wear a long sleeve shirt, pants, and gloves!  The shingles will tear your hands up if you do not wear gloves.  If you start sliding, the clothing will provide better friction than your skin to help you stop.  Plus, it will minimize cuts from any slide.
 – Wear a good pair of shoes.  I found that my basketball shoes gripped the best.
 – Be aware of the amount of wear that you are causing to the shingles in the work area.


1. Make sure the squirrels are out, and cover up the holes.  The hole at the top was a ventilation hole, so, it was covered with chicken wire.  The hole in the side of the chimney was temporarily covered with a piece of wood, and caulk was placed around it.



2. The siding was removed to assess the damage to the wood.  The squirrels chewed through the plywood, and about halfway through the 2×4 support.  The other five 2×4 supports had scratch marks, but were not significantly damaged.



3. The wood was not in the best condition, therefore, all of the siding, on the damaged side, was removed and the rotten part of the plywood cut out.  The very top piece of siding was not removed because that would have required taking apart the whole top of the chimney, which, frankly, was too much work.



4. The damage to the 2×4 support was repaired by adding a 1×4 to the back side and using multiple screws to secure it in.


5. I was surprised to find a lot of hay in the chimney.  I am not sure if it is supposed to be there.  I can’t imagine animals bringing in that much material in less than 10 years.  It could be in there to absorb any moisture so that it does not get into the house.  So, I removed about half of it, to get rid of the fur and fecal matter.


6. A 1×1 piece of wood was then screwed into the side of the 2×4 support that ran up the middle of the side.



7. A piece of plywood was cut to fit the cut-out using a jigsaw and screwed in.  An approximate rectangle was first cut.  Then, back on the roof, different areas were cut to make a good fit.  The gap was sealed using liquid nails.



8. The new pieces of Masonite Siding were then cut.  The old pieces were used as templates, which reduced the amount of measuring.  The new siding was then painted using 2 coats of exterior paint.



9. The far corner trim was assembled before I went back on the roof, to help with installation.



10. The siding was then nailed into place along the side where the trim will cover it.  The siding is supposed to be installed from the bottom up, but, since I did not remove the top piece of siding, I had to install it from the top down.

[Also, starting from the bottom would have been very difficult due to the awkwardness of working on a second story roof, 5 feet from the edge.]



11. The trim was then added.



12. Every single crack/gap/void on the whole chimney was then sealed with an external caulk.  A fresh coat of paint was added, making the chimney look good as new!


Posted in Exterior, Siding | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Metal Fence Post Replacement

Posted by diynovice on August 7, 2008

Metal Fence Post Replacement


A small section of my fence was leaning, to a point where I could no longer open or close the gate.  After closely looking at the fence, I discovered that the base of the post had rusted away, and was only being held up by a rusted quarter of an inch of material.  Since the gate closed on this post, I didn’t want to move the post.  So, I dug up the post and replaced it.


Time: 6 hours
Cost: $35
(add another $35 if you do not have a Slate bar, Lowes has these, make sure to get one with a point on one end and a flat other end)
Difficulty: 3 out of 5
Tools required: Screwdrivers, Socket Wrench, Slate bar, Hoe, mixing tub

General Tip:
Fence posts should be placed 2 to 3 feet in the ground.  Corner posts should be at least 3 feet deep.

1. Since this small section of the fence had a hose reel attached to it, the hose reel was removed.  No screws had to be removed.  Most hose reels can be lifted up and then pulled off of the screws, similar to how picture frames are hung.



2. A support was placed under the fence a couple feet away from the broken post.  A scrap piece of granite and an old outdoor flower pot holder was used.  This kept the fence at the correct height.  A temporary post was installed next.  This prevents the fence from leaning.  An old Antenna pole and string was used.  The temporary support post was hammered 2 feet in the ground.

[This was a short section of fence, which could have easily been removed.  However, I did not want to leave an obvious hole in the fence.  Also, I wanted the fence to be inline.  In other words, if the whole fence leaned a little, I wanted the new post to lean a little.]



3. The rusted fence post was removed.  This was very easy, requiring one gentle swing of the sledge hammer.  Next, the concrete had to be taken out.


4. Using the Slate bar, the concrete around the post was broken up.  Use the pointed end of the Slate bar to hit the concrete.  The concrete should break up in chunks.  Eye protection was critical here, as small fragments of concrete were flying everywhere.


5. The remaining post stub was stabbed with the Slate bar.  Using a brick for leverage, I stood one the other end of the Slate bar, and the stub and most of the remaining concrete came right out.



6. The hole was cleaned out, removing all of the remaining small clumps of concrete and dirt.  This post hole was about 2 feet deep once everything was cleaned out.  So, the hole was deepened a few more inches and widened.


7. Using the old fence post clips, the new post was attached to the fence, so that it hung in the hole, about an inch from the bottom of the hole.


8. Concrete was mixed in a tub two bags at a time.  This is a very cheap way to mix concrete if you lack a wheel barrow.  These tubs can be found at the Home Depot and Lowes.  The concrete was mixed using a hoe, which was easier than using a shovel, since the tub is on the ground.


9. The concrete was poured into the hole, and a downward slope from the post to the ground was made, to keep water from gathering around the base.  Concrete was also placed in the post.  By knocking on the post and listening to the different sounds, the level was made slightly higher than the post base. This maybe unnecessary, but if you are interested, here is my reasoning:

The highest stressed location in this fence post (this is the post where the gate closes) is at the base where the post meets the concrete.  Corrosion (rusting) will occur faster at higher stressed areas, so, by keeping water away from the stressed area (filling the lower area of the post), rusting of that area should be delayed.


10. Let the concrete cure for the recommended time while keeping the temporary supports on the fence.  Any stress on the post should be minimized to ensure proper concrete curing.  Once the concrete has cured, remove the temporary supports.  A sledge hammer was required to knock the Antenna pole back and forth to loosen it enough to pull it out.


Posted in Exterior, Fence Repair | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

Garage Door Bracket Repair

Posted by diynovice on August 6, 2008

My Garage Door Bracket, which connects the Garage door arm to the Garage door ripped out of the garage door. 

I got a quote from a Garage Door repair company, and they said I would have to replace the whole door.  I didn’t have more time to wait for a second opinion, so I decided to fix the problem myself. 

Time: 4 hours
Cost: $15
(add another $20 if you do not have Titanium Drill bits or a Hack saw)
Difficulty: 3 out of 5

1. The maximum width plate that could fit behind the damaged area was measured, which was just shy of 2 inches.  There is a lip that would prevent any overhang of the plate.  A 2” wide, 1/8” thick, steel plate was used because Home Depot and Lowes did not have any Aluminum plate.  The plate was gently “convinced” to fit behind the damaged area.

2. The length of the steel plate required to reinforce the damaged area was 14 inches.  The plate ran from the cross support above the damage to the hinge below the damage. (Note: If you just choose to cover just the damaged area, there will be very high stresses at the ends of the plate that will probably cause the new repair to fail.  If you try this repair, your length may vary).

3. To attach the plate, I used bolts similar in size as the metal screws currently being used on the door, which are ¼” screws.  Below is a short list of some factors I thought of when locating holes:  

 – Existing screw hole locations at the top and bottom of the plate were utilized to ensure proper installation (this is to ensure that the stress is transferred from the Bracket to the plate/flange and then to the structure).
 – Enlarged or added holes are separated by a center-to-center distance of 2 times the hole diameter.  Holes added near the edge of the plate will keep a distance from the edge to the center of the hole of twice the diameter of the hole.
 – The plate needs to be well supported around the damaged area.
 – Two or more bolts should be installed “off-the-center-line” of the plate or near the edge of the plate to prevent the plate from rocking along the center line.

The picture below shows where I put my ¼” bolts.  The holes circled in red were unused existing holes that I enlarged.  The yellow ones are existing screw locations.  The blue ones are holes that I added.

4. Once the general hole pattern was decided, the plate is placed behind the damaged area.  Using a magic marker, chosen fastener holes were completely filled in.  The plate was removed, and the holes were drilled.  To drill through the steel, Titanium drill bits were used.  A 1/8” pilot hole was first drilled at approximately the center of the magic marker spot.  Then, a 1/32” over-sized hole was drilled (9/32” drill bit).  This allows for tolerances since the drilled holes are eyeballed.


5. Using ¼” bolts, a lock washer, a regular washer on both sides, and a nut, the plate was attached behind the damaged area.  The two additional holes were then drilled out.  This ensured a perfect fit with the garage door.  The additional bolts, lock washers, and nuts were then added.


6. Now, the new Garage Door Bracket must be installed.  The Garage Door Arm was brought near the door and attached to the bracket to help locate where the Garage Door Bracket should be located.  The hole locations were marked with a magic marker, and the holes were drilled out.  The bracket was attached with ¼” fasteners, a lock washer on one side, and a nut.


7. Now, reattach the Garage Door Arm to the bracket, and it is finished!



Posted in Garage, Interior | Tagged: , | 13 Comments »