This weekend I got a bunch of little details taken care of. The bathroom closet door has been sticking in the summer humidity and this has caused the door knob to loosen. I used a tool I call a cheese grater, it’s a microplane rasp that pulls off more than sandpaper but less than a proper plane would. There was just this one spot where it stuck, up at the top, so that was pretty straightforward to fix.
We have a lot of trouble with our door knobs in our older house. Some of the knobs may be original to the house, for all I know, and the spindles have just gotten worn down.
A whole door knob mechanism is a spindle that goes through the door to connect the inside knob to the outside knob. The spindle is square so that turning the knob will cause the tongue to go in and out and latch or unlatch the door. The knobs screw onto the spindle and a small screw holds the knobs into place once they are in position. If you tighten the knobs all the way you cannot even turn them, and that’s no good, but if they are too loose they will rattle in the door and also not work well. To find the right fit I tighten the knobs until I just start to feel resistance, that I’ve reached the door. Then I back off one full turn and tighten the screw. Then I test the knob. Our knobs are funny in that you can’t count on a specific back off amount being correct, I think this is because all of the hardware is old and probably has been banged up over the years.
The pantry door spindle was stripped and recently I went to the store to replace it. I found that the spindle alone cost more than two knobs plus a spindle! Naturally I chose the cheaper option and I am glad I did as the new knobs work so nicely.
I installed new hooks in the bathroom as well, making sure they are low enough that there is no excuse for the kids to leave their damp towels on the floor. The girls were excited when I put them in because now they can reach but I think the full implications have yet to hit home for them.
I spent some time working on the flapper in the toilet. It flushes just fine but sometimes the flapper doesn’t fall back into place and so the toilet runs and runs, wasting water. More recently it’s been seated badly and I will hear the toilet tank “gulp”–it will run water into the tank for a couple of seconds and then stop. That means the flapper is allowing water to slowly drain out of the tank and allowing the float to drop enough that it needs to allow water into the tank again. Sometimes you can also confirm this by looking for water running down the sides of the toilet, but it depends on the angle of light in your bathroom. Perhaps another way to see if the water is running in the toilet bowl would be to wait until the tank is filled and then drop some food coloring in the bowl.
Replacing the flapper is pretty easy, and it’s only about a $5-10 part but I have to say that the flappers are not universal. The first flapper we had would catch on the inside of the tank and stay open until someone (me) reached in to release it. I took an x-acto blade and pared off a small bit of the plastic so it wouldn’t catch. Now that it doesn’t close properly I wonder if it’s just too light for the job.
I found a spare flapper in the basement and tried installing it but the new one is all rubber and far too flexible for our toilet. I went back to the original flapper and tinkered with it to try and add weight to help it close. I’m not convinced that it’s fixed. We have had indoor toilets for a while now, why can’t the makers produce uniform toilet parts?
All of those tasks were in our small bathroom, I also spent some time in the master bedroom fixing the door knob so the door will actually close all the way. I re-hung the headboard a bit higher, hung two framed pictures of the girls, and rearranged the things on the dresser so they look nicer.
There are still many small tasks to do, but having fixed the door knobs makes a big difference. I don’t know when I’ll be able to do some of the bigger jobs like fixing the ceilings or power washing the deck since the girls are home a lot more these days. Come the first day of school I may go repair-happy!