Monday, April 1, 2013

Do I Have To? Install a Door Sweep

Welcome to the ass-backward part of the show, where I do something in April that I should have done in October. This time, I'm installing a door sweep on the interior of our front door. It's my once-a-month series "Do I Have To?" where I tackle an unglamorous project.

Yes, I should have done this when it started getting chilly last fall. No, it didn't happen. But, it's always possible that April will essentially be another month of winter around here. It's happened before. I'd intended for this "Do I Have To?" to be an outdoor one, but the ground is still frozen-ish. Maybe next month.

And if April actually means spring, it means hot weather soon. That's another good reason to have a good seal on your door.

Let's get started:

This is how it looked for months. The inside of my front door with the new door sweep leaning up in the corner. Shiny, new, and useless:

The door is original to the house, I believe. The flooring is crummy old sheet vinyl. Teaching myself how to tile is going to be a fall project (she says confidently now). That's my bag of tools and a level.

The first thing to do was scrape off the leftovers of some previous weatherproofing. It was some sort of foam tape, and I didn't want it to prevent my aluminum and rubber sweep from fitting tightly to the door:

The door sweep is 36" long, with a little bit extra run of the rubbery flange on each end. I measured my door, and it is 35 3/4" wide.

Now usually, if you have a substantial amount of length to remove off of a door sweep, it's recommended that you take an equal amount off EACH END, so the screws end up evenly spaced. And hey, I recommend that too. I'm not a non-conformist when it comes to these things.

However, a measly 1/4 inch isn't enough to fuss about, and cutting 1/8 inch of BOTH ends just seemed absurd, and possibly difficult (It's harder to make clean cuts of smaller lengths that longer ones). I decided I'd cut off the 1/4 on the hinge end of the door sweep, in case I didn't do such a great job cutting the aluminum. You'll see that was good thinking.

I also needed to decide on placement. It seems like you would want to mark a line first with the level, then decided where the sweep would be in relation to that line. Here's the other ass-backward part: I didn't do it that way. I dry-fit the sweep to the door where it would fit snugly against the threshold and without brushing the floor, by eyeball. And I really mean by eyeball. I was smack on my shoulder on the floor to get a good look. Then I drew a line across the entire door with a pencil, right against the door sweep's top edge. I've dropped the sweep down in the picture to take a photo (because I don't have four hands, and sometimes I wish I did):

People who know me really well will understand what's hinky in this picture. Guess in the comments!

Then I checked it for level:

I was pretty darn spot on. If I'd really hosed it up, I'd have just scrubbed out the line and started over.

I marked the 1/4 inch that I wanted to cut off on the sweep with a Sharpie marker. Yes, I know that shiny brass is "out" but based on what color this door will end up being, it's the way to go. I tried to cut it with some all purpose metal snips:

But they weren't strong enough. Dangit. I'd even bought them for this job (and because I'd had to borrow a neighbor's more than once before, which is a good indication you need your own). There were extrusions on the backside to reinforce the piece, and they were doing too good of a job. Also, I have small, weak, puny, girly hands.

By some miracle (is there a patron saint of tools?), I had a hack saw that came in a box of my late great-uncle's things. The blades were still sharp.

So, hack saw this, baby:

Now I need clamps. This would have gone much better if I wasn't simply wedging it against my thigh with my elbow. But I don't have a bench with clamp. So it's my thigh or nothing (a sentence never used in a do-it-yourself segment ever before, I'm sure).

So? Not that straight. Or great.

And a hack blade slip made a mark in the brass finish. Boo. Thankfully, I've yet to have a guest say in my home: "Your decor is lovely, however, there is a terrible ding in your door sweep. It ruined the moment for me." And this is why I made the cut on the hinge side. A little less noticeable.

I cut off the end off the rubber (vinyl?) sweep:

Next, I dry-fit the sweep to the door again, and attempted to make marks through the pre-drilled holes on the sweep so I'd know where to put the pre-drilled holes in the door for the screws. But no pencil, pen, whatever, would penetrate the aluminum piece (which is arched slightly) and the rubber sweep, and so it devolved into a 20 minutes of well-this-won't-work-what-about-this-dangit-where's-my-awl-nope-can't-find-it-what? up and down nonsense that is so infuriating when this is supposed to be a relatively simple task. I finally just got out my drill and bumped a small drill mark through each hole.

This is my drill. Her name is Dorothy. Dorothy DeWalt. She and I drilled pilot holes for the screws:

Then I screwed the sweep to the door, and done:

A few things:

This door is grubby, and in need of a good coat of paint. That'll come when the house gets painted.

In a post last year I said that every project time estimate needs a dumb-crap margin. The dumb-crap margin is all the stuff that happens that doesn't include actually doing the project. So, losing a tool, realizing your method isn't working and having to change it, running to the hardware store for another part, stopping mid-project to cook hotdogs for the kids, the weather-- these are all part of the dumb-crap margin.

The dumb-crap margin on this was high, because the length of the actual project is pretty short to begin with. So even though my setbacks were irritating rather than tragic or catastrophic, I still spent more time than necessary running around trying to find a tool that would cut the metal, and an implement that would mark the screw holes. The entire project was an hour start to finish. Entirely half of it was dumb crap. My dumb-crap margin was 50 percent. Bad.

I'm hoping next month to move "Do I Have To?" outdoors. Though it will still be true to its theme, annoying projects on my list to get done, it's gotta be better with some fresh air and sunshine. Until May, my friends.

1 comment:

  1. I love this series of yours. Keeps home-owning (and keeping) real. And I love having a name for the dumb-crap part of projects!