Make This! Repair guide to my heart
by Deirdre Long
Dec 16, 2012 | 3342 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When you own an older house, like I do, it’s a love-hate relationship. I love the hardwood floors and the craftsman-style woodwork, the built-in bookcase and the beautiful original glass light fixtures. I hate the drafty windows, the un-insulated laundry room (brrr!!!) and the shower, which works at full pressure only sometimes.

And the doors. Oh, how I hate my doors.

When we moved in, the original doors had these beautiful glass doorknobs, which, judging by the 800 layers of paint on them, are original to the house.

But apparently after 82 years, doorknobs wear out and start to fall off in your hand when you use them. Over the next couple of years, I amassed a collection of glass knobs in my sewing room, where I use them as pattern weights.

The two doors that lost knobs completely — two others still have knobs, but one doesn’t open at all and the other doesn’t close — were to the master bedroom. Not having a knob wasn’t a problem, really. The door could just stay open.

Then I had kids. As those kids turned into toddlers who love to explore (and destroy), the need for a working doorknob became apparent. Many of my sources don’t know it, but I’ve interviewed them in my bathroom, which has the only locking door in the house.

A year or so ago, I decided to install a new doorknob to the bedroom. Getting the hardware off (remember the 800 layers of paint?) was hard enough. Then I discovered that old-school doorknobs weren’t installed the same way as doorknobs nowadays. The hole through the door is maybe a half-inch in diameter, and the replacement knob I purchased needed about 1 1⁄2 inches.

Boring a hole in a door takes a specialty drill attachment that I didn’t have. The doorknobs — I had planned on replacing four sets of them — were returned to Lowe’s, and I’ve since spent my days chasing kids out of my room.

But a couple of weeks ago, serendipity happened. I love that.

A co-worker of my husband’s was moving out of town, and he gave us a big toolkit full of miscellaneous stuff. Unrelated, I ordered the book “The Woman’s Hands-On Home Repair Guide” by Lyn Herrick from Storey Publishing. Over the couple of nights I spent reading this book, I was also building some bunk beds for the kids. While I was building the beds, I rifled through the donated toolkit to find some screws — and I discovered the very specialty bits I needed to install new door knobs. And I had just read the chapter of the repair guide on windows and doors, which includes step-by-step directions on installing a new doorknob.

So I fixed the knobs and lived in peace and child-free harmony, right? Wrong. Procrastination — and lack of any child-free time, which is essential when using power tools — has caused me to keep chasing children out of the room, where they love to jump on the bed and “fold clothes” (which is a horrible game where they just pull clean clothes out of drawers and sling them aimlessly around the house) and, the worst, play at my desk.

Another reason behind the procrastination is the shopping list I’m making for my next trip to the hardware store. Doorknobs, check. But after reading all of “The Woman’s Hands-On Home Repair Guide,” there are a couple of other things I need to do, that are much simpler that I would have thought.

The kitchen sink has a drip, which just requires a new washer.

The bathroom door sticks sometimes, and it probably just needs a shim.

I’ll need caulk to stop some of the drafts from the windows.

I’ll need to get a special wrench to replace the diverter valve stem in my bathtub, and a new valve stem and seat, too.

And with everything else Herrick covers in her book — electricity, appliances, heating and cooling, floors and furniture — my shopping list just keeps growing.

With some work on my end — it’s just a growing a list of repairs — maybe I can turn this love-hate relationship with my house into something more.

Buy the book

“The Woman’s Hands-On Home Repair Guide” by Lyn Herrick

Storey Publishing, $17.95

Available online and can be ordered at Books-A-Million
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Make This! Repair guide to my heart by Deirdre Long

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