Category Archives for "Home Repairs"

DIY Rain Gutter Installation

If you’re having issues with flooding in your home or even just water pooling up on the outside, against your house (which can lead to all kinds of problems from rot to other issues with the founation), you should really consider installing some good rain gutters on your home.  We did this recently with a number of managed rental properties we have (you can see them here on this site:, and I can tell you that now I’m kicking myself for not having done so sooner!  It was an easy job and after the most recent rainy season, I can most definitely tell you it was a very, very good investment of both time and money.

All the materials used in installing these gutters can be purchased at Home Depot or Lowes. They sell links of ten foot gutters and if you need longer you’re going to have to use a seam. You can see, there is a seam here. Professional installers have a machine that rolls out and forms exactly how much gutter link you need, so they can go forty- fifty feet easy all in one piece and not have any seems.

The one thing you have to consider when putting up your gutter is needs to drop towards the drain, about an inch every twenty feet. This gutter is just over twenty feet, but if you have a forty foot span you would need to two downspouts, so you have the high and the middle and both, left and rights sides will drop down an inch. I picked up all these materials at Home Depot, but here in Lowes you can see they have roughly the same stuff, it’s exactly the same shape.

You can also get it in vinyl, so if you want to do a plastic rain gutter system, the good thing about plastic is it is easier to cut and the ceiling you’re going to use is more like a PVC sealant, so you are not going to use the same sealant you do on the metal gutters. The first thing I am going to do is run the chalk like string all the way across the gutter and snap a perfectly level horizontal line. And this is going to be where the base of the gutter is.

Now that I have a good horizontal line, I am going to lower it one inch on the gutter side only and snap a second line. This will give me the right amount of drop so that the water flows to the downspout. To cut the gutters you can use a jigsaw with a blade, but I am just going to use my arm saw. It cuts it really nice. Next I am going to snap on the end cap and tap it on on with the hammer and then crimp it a little with some pliers, just give it a slight bit of a bent when you squeeze.

The use some gutter sealant, it’s going to be right in the same section that you buy all your other materials, you’re not going to have to go to the paint section of Home Depot or Lowes. This is what I used, it looks like silicone, but it’s not the same stuff and you can see this is the hardware that I am going to be using to attach it to the roof, just one piece of bend metal and a screw, clips and just like that, real simple.

First one I placed six inches from the end, this is one that Lowes sells, looks a little different, but it’s exactly the same. You could see it’s got a hook and it clips in underneath and just slips right on. Here I am placing a bracket, every two feet. You’ll find it’s a lot easier putting the screws in on the bench than up on a ladder, so get them started here and then bring it up. If you need a joining bracket, slip one one.

You can do this yourself if you’re holding the middle of the rain gutter and balancing it, but it’s a lot easier to start on one end and have someone else hold it. I am lining up the bottom of the rain gutter with chalk line that tapers downward and then just screw it right in. Before I screw each screw, I make sure that it’s still following the tape. Add as many segments as you need, slip them in, it seems like it’s a little easier to put this in if you angle it down first and then once the bottom part is in, you can push it up to get the top part together in the slot.

Once you do that, get some pliers and bend it and crimp the top of the joint. I use a lot of sealant on both sides. You want to feather it out, make sure you get a nice clean seal. To mark where the downspouts are going to go, I am placing my level against this edge of the wall and it’s long and straight enough to reach the gutter, so I don’t have to really measure anything. If you get a very straight beam, you can just place it right against the wall, put it up against your gutter and you are going to know where your downspout needs to go.

You are going to find this whole process to be pretty easy I think and if there is a difficult part, this would be it, cutting the hole for the downspout. Home Depot only sells this rectangular piece for the downspout. If you don’t have any way to cut it out, you can get a gutter piece here. The only downside to using one of this is you have two more seams, but other than that, it’s really clean, it might make your project go a lot faster and you don’t need to buy any extra tools.

So you might want to pick up one if this instead of cutting the downspout. They do make circular downspout drops, but I haven’t seen. Home Depot or Lowes didn’t have them and I didn’t have time on this project to order one. But if you do find one, you can use a drill saw like this and knock out a hole pretty easy. You can see it cuts a nice clean hole. You can also cut a hole with the jigsaw if that’s what you have.

Blades that are used for cutting metal, you can see here, they are kind of wavy and you’re going to need one of those. You can’t use a wood bit to cut metal, just doesn’t work. You can see, jigsaw will cut really easy. This last way is the way I would recommend. Start with drawing a rectangle, next drill a starting hole and using tin snips, cut a spiral out. If you cut thin spiral strips, you can get really close to the edge easily.

Next drill your rivet holes and put on some sealant and you can do a better job than I am doing this, this is just a demo, so it’s kind of sloppy, and stick it to the bottom of the gutter and put in your rivets. This is what it looks like, you don’t have to do a perfect job cutting the hole and it should hold up just fine. If you wondered about using tin snips to cut, they do cut the flat parts great, but when you get to the corner, it’s really hard to cut corners and keep the shape of the gutter.

So this are almost useless for doing gutters. It’s going to take way too long and bend your metal. I thought it would be good to try out a few ways to do it, so I tried this Rotozip  and it is squarely. These are great for cutting out drywall, but they are  tough to control when cutting a rain gutter. For this you are going to need a metal cutting bit as well and I am really working hard to control this blade.

It is the fastest way to do it, but I am not kidding when I say it is hard to control perfectly. Once you have your hole, you can put in your downspout drop, I am putting few holes in here for rivets. First a bit of sealant around the drop. This piece is actually made out of vinyl. It’s the only piece of vinyl in the whole job and if you don’t have rivets, you can use screws, but rivets work really well.

You can buy this riveting tool at Home Depot or Lowes, you get get a cheap one at Harbor Freight. This rivets are made our of aluminum, so they will never going to rust on you. After you put the rivets in, put on some more sealant all the way around the edge. Now I am slipping on the first part of the downspout. This one actually changes angles to match the side of the wall I am going to be mounting to.

I am going to put on one screw here, just to secure it from falling down. This is just as easy to cut, I am just using a circular saw again, not even a special blade. To mount into the masonry or hardboard, clapboard or even wood, you can use these plastic expanding anchors, you slip one of these in and when the screw gets placed inside, it expands the plastic and grips really tight. This is a metal strap that’s going to hold the downspout to the wall.

Now I am kinking the ends here so I can fit it inside the last piece. It’s a little difficult how it it folds in on itself. So for every piece, the piece above has to go inside the piece below it, otherwise water will flick right out of the connections. I am going to place another little screw here, just to stop this for slipping off. You can see the piece above it’s already pre kinked on this end and it slips right into the one below it.

Again, the one above goes inside the one below. You can bend this straps over and just just a couple of galvanized screws in, galvanized means they are not going to rust on you. For this downspout I only need two straps to hold it on. Here is where you have options. In this case, all I am doing is adding a section of drain pipe to keep the water from pulling right at the foundation.

Another way is to use this corrugated drain pipe, it gets buried underneath the ground and you can have a pop out, when the water comes down the gutter, it floods out here, keeps it all away from the house. My name is Adam, if you have any questions, let me know, I will do my best to answer, it’s a really easy process, I don’t think anybody would have trouble doing this, just give yourself a full Saturday and have some fun. Thanks, and good luck with your project!

Fixing a Dishwasher’s Drain Pump

Today we’re gonna show you how to change and replace your drain pump on your dishwasher. You’re going to need a quarter-inch and a 5/16″ nut driver and a pair of slip joint pliers.  We’re going through these steps here because I recently had to do this over the phone with a friend who had a broken dishwasher in Austin (I had had the exact same issue and contacted and got it sorted out).  Since it was going to be a while before I was out to visit, we did a phone/skype repair session together.  I think we were both pretty impressed we got it done.

The best way to do this repair is with the dishwasher pulled out of the cabinet. We will need to unattach the mounting tabs at the top the dishwasher that pass into the bottom of your countertop. You also need to remove the lower access panel gain access to your electrical connection and to your inlet water connection – you need to make sure that that is turned off.

To get started, just remove the two quarter-inch hex head screws that hold that access panel in place. Just tilt it forward and let it rotate in place. You now have access to the electrical inlet connection, your drain hose your inlet water hose… just disconnect what you need to then just pull the dishwaser out of the counter cabinet.

drain pump Now that we’ve disconnected utilities to the dishwasher and pulled it from the cabinet, the easiest way to do the repairs is to lay it on its back. That gives access to the component on the bottom.

To change the drain pump, you’ll need to remove the 2 electrical connections from the front of the pump. Just pull those off. The pump is held in place with a little mounting bracket on the side of it. We also need to disconnect the outlet drain hose and the inlet from the pump.

We’ll start with the outlet drain hose, and there is probably going to be some water in that drain hose, so you need something to catch the excess water. You’ll need to loosen that 5/16ths screw on the clamp, slide the clamp down over the hose and wiggle the hose off the pump, and just set that aside.

Next with slip strip joint pliers we’ll depress the clamp to the dishwasher pump and slide that clamp upwards. And now pull that hose right off.

The mounting tabs are located inside this little box and you can depress the one closest to you using a flat blade screw driver and just pop up out of there. Then you should be able to twist the pump enough to rotate the other one over that opening. You can just discard that old pump now.

drain pump shematicWith the new pump it comes with a new hose and two new clamps, so we don’t need to transfer anything from the old pump. You just line up those two tabs with the slots on the side of the pump housing and press those into place, lining up the inlet hose at the same time. Make sure it snaps into position and press the hose firmly until it bottoms out.

With our slip joint pliers, slide that clamp down into position. Make sure you leave the tabs on that clamp where you can access them with pliers in the future.

Now we’ll rotate the drain hose back in the position and ensure it seats firmly on the new pump. We will take that clamp in the position and slide it fully onto the outlet, and tighten with our 5/16th nut driver. Reconnect the two wires – make sure they seat firmly in the opening.

And now we’re ready to put the dishwasher back into position and reinstall the kick plate, turn on the water supply, reconnect the electrical supply, and our repair of this dishwaser will be complete.

Simple, Small Drywall Fix

drywall damageToday we’re going to be talking about how to make a nice patch for patching a hole in drywall, with the idea of, you got a small issue, like maybe a hockey puck went through the wall or whatever. You come home from a busy day and sure enough, the kids have bashed a hole in the basement or “somebody” has, bashed a hole in wall in their room or somewhere, and now you are stuck with the task of trying to fix it. A lot of times you end up with one that’s between a couple of studs, out in the middle of nowhere and what do you do? Do you cut a big chunk of drywall out of the wall so that you could get back to the stud and actually screw it to the studding or how do you support it?

Well, in this case, it’s not an uncommon thing, you got a drywall wall and you end up with a hole like that, right? From wherever…the kids have done something again and now you’re here fixing it. So, we’ve got a hole, what you are going to do with it? It’s all ugly.

Well, here is the easiest thing to do. You can see, we’re out in the middle of a couple of studs so there’s no backing or anything in there. Without cutting an even bigger hole and making a mess, the easiest way to fix this up is to actually cut this out square, so pick yourself a measurement, just a little bigger than the hole you’ve got, because you’ll feel, in the back, it’s kind of spoiled all on the back, the damage on the back is always a little wider than what’s on the front, so I am going to make a body of four inch here and I think we’ll just go 4×4, to make it easy. So make a nice square mark on here and then you’re going to cut out with the drywall saw. So we’re going to cut all that damaged area with our drywall saw.

Okay. So we’ve got our nice square hole, we’re going to go over to the workbench and we’re going to cut a patch that we can easily put in here, without opening any backing in the wall.

If you wanted too, another option is to slide a chunk 2×4 down into the hole, back up here and screw it in and then you could just screw a patch on there, but if you have a smaller area, you don’t always have that opportunity to do that.

So, I’m going to show you how we’re going to fix that, without putting blocking in there. Okay. So we’ve cut our 4×4 square out of the wall, now a patch, we’re going to cut out of a separate scrap piece of drywall and we need to actually make it two inches wire all the way around than whatever you cut in the hole, so in our case, we need a 8×8 patch. So I’m just going to get that started here. So we first start out by getting eight inches by eight inches.

So, we’ve got our eight inch by eight inch. Obviously, it doesn’t fit in the hole. What I’m going to do now, I’ll show you how to make this fit, we’re not going to need drywall tape to go around there or anything, we’re going to actually use paper surface on this patch.

So now, I’m going to take my 8×8, turn it around to the back side. This square here is already two inches wide I know, so I’m going to use it to mark off the excess on the back here, that I don’t need of the actual plaster or the gypsum. So, I’m laying one side flush here to the side of the square, I’m going to cut along this side, cut the paper.

Make couple of passes, do that on every side. Just like so. What you’ll end up with now is you should end up with this being four inches or just slightly under that in the middle and we’re going to take this drywall now and we’re just going to break those cuts and peel off that piece all the way around. Okay.

So I’ve got two sides, I’m going to do the other two. So now, what we are left with is an actual patch that we can apply mud around our hole that we’ve cut in the wall and insert this patch right into it. So just double check, dry fit this, make sure it fits into the hole. This one is going to fit without any messing around, extra trimming or anything and we’ll just get some mud mixed up and we’ll insert it in the hole.

Okay. So we’ve got some mud all mixed up, so what we’re going to do next is just apply some generous amount of mud around this hole. Remember, we’ve got two inches of paper coming out there, so you want to be out for two and a half inches at least, for width. A nice wet consistency is perfectly fine, get a little bit inside the hole, around.

repair drywall holeSo we’ve got some muck on there, you can see it’s generously falling out, we’ve got our patch, insert it in the hole. Just use our knife now, just like you would taping a joint or something, you’re swagging out the excess that we aren’t going to need back there. And it’s all on there, you didn’t have to mess around with running tape around there or overlapping the corners and everything.

So we can let that dry and it’s just like any other muddling job, you’re just going to give that a few coats, feather it out each way so you are not leaving a big, just a bump there, that’s going to show up and flash when you paint it. That’s a fairly easy way to patch a little hole like that.