Saturday, February 5, 2011

Speaking of critters

Before we left for Iowa for Christmas, Renae had made arrangements with the neighbors to have their 11 year-old son clear our driveway if it snowed while we were gone.  These arrangements were made while Renae was out shoveling and talking to the neighbors the last time it snowed before we left. When we were driving to Iowa, she also mentioned that the neighbor had asked if we ever worried about mice getting into the bird feed we keep in the garage.

The three years I fed birds in Bloomington, and the two years we lived in Aurora we never had problems with mice. I had planned to get some storage bins for the feed ever since we moved in August, but I had never got around to it. But, every time I filled the feeders (about once a week) I checked the bags to see if they had been chewed open. Up to leaving for our trip home, there had been no sign of unwanted visitors.

But, getting back home from the trip meant the feeders needed to be filled.  The first thing I saw was a pile of seed a little larger than could be explained simply by my own spillage.  So, off to the hardware store I went.

I was short on time, so I went to the closest store, which happens to be Ace Hardware.  I found their 5 gallon buckets, which were priced at $6.00.  It seemed a little steep, but being in a hurry, I decided to go for it. There weren't any lids with them, so I went to the paint counter and asked for a few lids.  It turns out that Ace wanted $3.00 for a lid!  Yikes.  They also had 24 quart pet food containers with sealing lids for the same price.  So, I got a pair of those and a scoop for the feed.  I still think it was overpriced, but I guess that is what I paid for the convenience.

Shower door project

This is what my shower has looked like for the past 3 weeks or so, ever since Renae discovered that water from the shower was leaking into the basement.

I had taken the door off of the frame when I was tracking down the leak.  I had assumed that the door was improperly hung and that a simple adjustment would take care of water that was getting under the bottom of the door.

After talking to one of the employees in the Bath department at Lowe's, I learned that actually the door had been installed correctly. The real problem was that the door was not the right type of door to use in that shower.  The shower head is opposite the door, and the pivot style door is designed to be used with a shower having the shower head on a side wall.

Because the pivot style doors are prone to letting water get through and there was going to be little hope of fashioning a decent fix, we decided to order a new door.  We had always planned on replacing this shower door, since the door frame has a horizontal bar that you have to duck under going in and out of the shower. We thought it was going to be a project a few years down the road, though. But two weeks after placing the order, I had the new door in the back of the car.

Getting the frame off was pretty easy. I pulled the screws holding it together and gently pried the frame away from the tile. The silicone caulk held it pretty tightly in place, but I was able to get it off without scratching the tile.

The bottom part of the frame had about half a tube of caulk which was still wet underneath it!  I took a photo of it:

I guess whoever installed it just squirted a ton of caulk through the pivot hole and figured it would dry eventually. Not so much, in this case. It does explain why there was a thin sheet of dry silicone covering the entire part of the inner door ledge, however. 

Four hours later, and I have my new door installed:

Really it only took about an hour of measuring, drilling, leveling and fastening.  The other three hours were spent going back down to the workshop to hunt down a tool I didn't think I would need, but found that I really did need.

Here's what I learned doing this project:
  • Get all the tools that the instructions call for.
  • Read the instructions twice before starting the project.  I read through them once and it didn't make any sense.  The second time through I started figuring it out.  (Actually, reading the instructions is the number one thing that I've learned from every contractor I've ever worked with.)
  • Covering the drain with a towel like Rich on "This Old House" does is a smart idea(r). 
  • Use the proper drill bit for the material you are drilling through.  I used a masonry bit to get through the tile. The previous homeowner (probably) did not and ended up chipping the tile up pretty good.  I tried to hang the door to cover the old holes as much as possible, but ended up sacrificing a bit of evenness from one side to the other to cover some of the holes. Not content to learn from someone else's mistake, I used the wrong type of drill bit to try to drill through the metal door jamb. I ended up destroying a drill bit in the process. (And having to make another trip to the workshop.)
  • You can use the cardboard that the door came in to clean up your mess.  All the parts of the other door went onto that box, which I dragged out to the garage.
This was a simple project for the average DIYer.  I think we have really improved the look and functionality of our master bathroom with the new shower door.