Basement & Garage - 2/6 - Bob Vila

Category: Basement & Garage

3 Fixes for a Garage Door That Won’t Close

How many times have you waited for the garage door to close, only to have it go back up once it reaches the bottom? Try one of these troubleshooting strategies to put a stop to this maddening problem.

Garage Door Won't Close


Garage doors sometimes seem to have a mind of their own, often deciding when—and how far—they want to open or close. Sometimes the fix can be as simple as replacing the batteries in the opener, and other times a finicky door may be the sign of a bigger issue. Although some repairs, such as replacing springs or altering the track, should be performed only by a professional, there are a few troubleshooting tricks you can tackle on your own before consulting an expert. Here are a few ways you can combat common garage door issues to keep your home safe and secure.



Garage Door Won't Close - Eye


Clutter or obstructions that block the sensor are the first problems to look for if your door won’t close or, in extreme cases, open at all. First, check the sensor lights: Depending on the brand of garage door you have, one of the sensor lights may flash, dim, or go out completely when the beam is interrupted. Even if nothing seems to be in the way, consider giving the eyes of the sensors a good cleaning, as oftentimes dirt, debris, or even spiders that have made themselves at home can interrupt the beam and stop the door from operating. If the door still won’t stay shut, double-check that the sensors are aligned with each other; if they aren’t, gently bend them to restore a clear connection—and secure a clean escape from your garage.



Garage Door Won't Close - Limits


If you’ve checked the sensor eyes and alignment and the door still won’t work properly, the open and close limits could be to blame. These settings—also referred to as travel limits—tell the opener how far the door should travel before it’s fully closed and help prevent the door from crushing objects in its path. When the settings are too high, the door senses the floor as an obstruction and immediately opens again after closing. The good news is, this can be easily adjusted with a screwdriver and a few measurements. For specific instructions, consult your manual or the website of the door manufacturer so you can stop the sporadic madness once and for all.



Garage Door Won't Close - Track


Keeping the garage door closed is important to home security, so life can become pretty stressful when that door can’t seem to stay shut. In your efforts to get your home safely sealed up again, you may need to turn your attention to the garage door’s track and rollers; improper maintenance can cause these components to malfunction. Set the problem straight by first cleaning the metal rollers with a toothbrush to remove any grime, and then lubricating them with a non-silicon-based product like motor oil. (If your door has nylon rollers, lubricate only the bearings.) Next, clean the tracks with a cloth and brake oil, removing any buildup that may be preventing the door from operating properly. If that doesn’t do the trick, it’s a good idea to consult a pro before attempting any extensive DIY repairs on your own.

Weekend Projects: 5 DIY Ways to Set Up Garage Shelves

Using humble materials and simple techniques, you can put up any of these garage shelves and squash clutter in less than one weekend.

DIY Garage Shelves


For handy homeowners, the garage isn’t simply a spot to park the car—it’s a place to park everything, including gardening gear, wood saws, and seasonal storage. But without space-smart shelving to corral these tools and supplies, this practice can turn your good-looking garage into a disorganized drop zone. This weekend, reverse the course of clutter with one of these five ideas for DIY garage shelves that will transform your space into an organizational oasis.



DIY Garage Shelves - Wood


Do you need a designated area in your garage to store bins upon bins of seasonal decorations or sports equipment, but don’t want to spend on pricey store-bought units? Look no further than this elegant yet economical solution from Ana White. While her 20-foot-long DIY garage shelves are ideal for a space with ample square footage, you can alter the plans to make your finished product as long or as short as you need. Built from 2x4s, the frame and shelf supports come together easily with self-tapping screws and wood glue. After threading the boards for the shelves through the frame, secure the project to the wall, then sand and stain for a winning finish.



DIY Garage Shelves - Gutters


DIY garage shelves constructed from rain gutters make for standout wall-mounted storage. After building and painting a frame, the savvy blogger behind Anyone Can Decorate secured the gutters to the frame and filled the rounded bases with spray paint, seeds, and other project must-haves. Inexpensive and easy to construct, this sturdy, streamlined solution makes it a breeze to find what you need, even when you’re in the throes of a project.



DIY Garage Shelves - Ceiling


If the floor of your garage is already spoken for by lawn gadgets or sports gear, look up—the ceiling of your garage possesses hidden storage potential. To maximize it, follow the lead of the bloggers at The Cavender Diary to erect this simple yet space-smart hanging shelf. A thick wooden plank creates a solid foundation for the storage unit, while chains with S-hooks—secured to the ceiling and attached to the base—help keep seldom-used supplies and decor safely suspended.



DIY Garage Shelves - IKEA


Open shelving is a fun and functional feature in the kitchen, and this IKEA hack from Polished Habitat proves that the look works just as well in the garage. Mounted storage cubes—often meant for the floor—make perfect homes for baskets, spray paint, and tools, and ensure that every odd and end has its spot. Take these DIY garage shelves up a notch by incorporating a piece of pegboard into the assemblage and tucking in a bench beneath to create a workstation fit for any serious DIYer.




You don’t have to be a woodworking wunderkind to build this multifunctional marvel from Don’t Worry. Be Happy. Keep Learning. Budding carpenters and master craftsmen alike can keep garage clutter under control by screwing reclaimed 2x4s flat against the walls, then securing reclaimed boards above them to serve as DIY garage shelves. Angle-cut beams provide yet more support for the shelves, and a series of screws along the 2×4 bases accommodate rakes, shovels, and other hanging items, making this a double-duty project.

How To: Paint a Garage Door

This small project will go a long way toward enhancing your home’s exterior. Talk about an open-and-shut case!

How to Paint a Garage Door


As long as it goes up and down on command, it’s easy to ignore your garage door. Yet this aspect of your home’s exterior is a crucial component of its curb appeal. Letting it look shabby is like allowing your lawn to grow knee-high. Fortunately, a fresh application of paint will improve the appearance of your garage door and also offer protection from the elements, extending its lifespan. Like all outdoor paint jobs, this one will be a bit time consuming due to the drying time required. Otherwise, it’s a fairly simple project. Just set aside two to three days to get it done and then enjoy the spiffy results.

– Rubber gloves
– Dust mask
– Safety goggles
– Wire brush
– Fine grit sandpaper
– All-purpose cleaner
– Sponge
– Garden hose
– Clean towels or rags
– Painters tape
– Drop cloth
– Latex exterior primer
– Latex exterior paint
– 2-inch nylon paintbrush
– ¾-inch paint roller
– Step stool or ladder

How to Paint a Garage Door - Fresh Exterior Color Choices


Check the weather forecast the week before you plan to start. The ideal temperature for painting is between 50 and 75 degrees, with low humidity and indirect sunlight. Choose three consecutive days that fit these criteria as closely as possible.

Then gather your materials: Be sure to select paint and primer (to promote adhesion and durability) appropriate for your particular garage door—most are now made of aluminum, but if you have an older home yours may be wooden. If you have any doubts about what to purchase, ask the experts at your local paint store. A gallon of paint ought to be more than adequate for a two-car garage door plus a bit to spare. But remember, putting a lighter color over a darker one may require more than one coat.

Prepping the garage door ensures that paint will go on easily and hold up well. Put on your protective gear (the work gloves, dust mask, and safety goggles), and then remove any rusted or chipped spots by scrubbing with a wire brush. Next, sand these areas with fine grit sandpaper to create a smooth base. Clean the entire surface with all-purpose cleaner and a sponge. Once all dirt and grime are removed, rinse the door with a garden hose. Dry the surface with clean towels or rags, and then let it air dry for at least an hour.

To prevent paint from going where you don’t want it, use heavy-duty painters tape to mask off any handles, locks, and windows. If you don’t intend to paint the trim, tape it off; if you are going to do the trim, tape off the edges of the garage. Protect the driveway and garage interior by laying out a drop cloth both inside and outside the door.

Stooping while painting is asking for a backache! For easier maneuvering, disengage the electric opening mechanism so you can move the door manually, then raise the door so that the bottom is at a comfortable height.

Most garage doors have inset panels—begin by priming these with a high quality 2-inch paintbrush with nylon bristles. Wipe away any excess that may have crept outside of the panels, in the areas known as the “stiles.” This will ensure a super smooth finish. Next, prime the stiles using the brush or a ¾-inch roller. Be sure to get in between the “lips” of the horizontal panels too. Lower the door as you go, and stand on a step stool or ladder for the top portion. Do the trim last. Let primer dry for at least 12 hours.

Begin painting, using the same method as for priming: bottom to top, starting with the inner panels and working outward to the stiles. Now, step back to survey your work: If the surface appears to be completely covered, you’re finished! If there are uneven patches or spots where the old color shows through, apply a second coat—just let the first one dry for at least 12 hours before starting. Once done, remove the tape and let paint dry overnight before opening the door.

You’ll appreciate your nice-as-new garage door and so will your neighbors. As far as a new car to go with it, well, that’s up to you!

Bob Vila Radio: Dealing with a Damp Basement

Moisture and homes don't mix. If trapped in your basement or crawlspace, it's only a matter of time before a minor issue becomes one you just can't ignore. Here are a few tips on preventing one of the most slippery problems that homeowners face.

Though you don’t live in the tropics, the most humid days might make you feel like you do. That dampness is not only uncomfortable, but it can also be damaging to your home.

Dealing with a Damp Basement


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON DEALING WITH A DAMP BASEMENT or read the text below:

If moisture gets trapped in your basement or crawlspace, for instance, it can eventually cause a host of problems, ranging from mold and mildew to buckling floor materials. To prevent such issues, make sure the terrain surrounding your home slopes away from the foundation and that your gutters deposit water at a safe distance. If you notice any puddles in your basement or crawlspace, or see any signs of mold or mildew, check for plumbing leaks or drain problems right away.

In a crawlspace, remember that ventilation is a must for many homes. A good rule of thumb: Allow one square foot of vent space for every 150 square feet in the crawlspace. Another best practice is to cover any bare ground with thick plastic sheeting. Meanwhile, in basements, apply a waterproof sealer to the floor and walls in order to block the intrusion of moisture. Still having problems? Consider sealing the vents and installing both a dehumidifier and a condensate pump.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

Bob Vila Radio: Be Good to Your Garage Door

Up and down. Up and down. Through all your day-to-day comings and goings, the garage door rarely complains. That said, for the door to continue operating without a hitch, it needs a simple course of maintenance on occasion. Here's what to do.

No matter whether you use muscle or a motor to open and shut your garage door, it’s going to need TLC every so often to continue operating safely and smoothly.

Garage Door Maintenance Tips


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON MAINTAINING YOUR GARAGE DOOR or read the text below:

To get started, stand inside your garage and, in the course of raising and lowering the door a few times, note all the moving parts, including hinges, springs, and rollers. You may want to wear a pair of safety goggles, along with a shop apron, as a way of keeping dust and oil off your clothes and out of your eyes.

Now, with the door closed, use a rag to wipe away any dust, grime, and cobwebs you can get at (you’ll probably need a step ladder to reach the overhead tracks). Next, squirt a bit of silicone spray onto all the moving parts of the assembly. Repeat the process with the door opened to about the halfway point. That’ll ensure the lubricant coats all the components involved in guiding the door on its back-and-forth journey.

Don’t forget: Pay some attention to the rollers. Use a straw applicator to send lubricant into their centers—the part the axles go through. As you go about this final task, keep a rag handy to wipe away the excess drips.

You see, it doesn’t take much effort to keep your garage door in tip-top shape. The hardest part is remembering to get out there and do it!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

Bob Vila Radio: Your Finished Basement Needs an Egress

In most municipalities these days, a finished basement must include an egress window or door. Here's what that means for you.

Transforming a dark, dank basement into welcoming living space isn’t a small job. But once complete, a finished basement gives a big boost to home value, even while adding comfort and convenience to daily life.

Basement Egress Windows and Doors


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON ADDING AN EGRESS or read the text below:

When planning a basement renovation, don’t forget to account for egress windows and doors. These are exits to the outside meant to be used in case of fire or other emergencies. Today, most building codes not only require egresses, but also enforce detailed specifications as to their size and placement.

If you have a sloping yard, you may be able to add exits completely above ground. On an average lot with even terrain, you’ll probably need to excavate, then cut through the concrete walls of the foundation to install a window well.

Cutting through concrete isn’t a DIY-friendly job; call in an experienced pro. And remember that before you do any digging, it’s imperative that you check with all utility providers for the location of buried lines coming in or out of your house. You don’t want to end up with an even larger and more expensive project on your hands.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.

Bob Vila Radio: Button Up Your Crawl Space

Even if you don't plan on ever using your crawl space, sealing the area can prevent mold and mildew while helping to minimize heating and cooling bills.

If you have a crawl space in your home that’s not adequately sealed and insulated, you’re probably wasting money on inefficient heating and cooling (not to mention inviting insects and rodents to share your abode).

Sealing a Crawl Space


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON SEALING YOUR CRAWL SPACES or read the text below:

To button up your crawl space, survey the space on a clear day, looking for any signs of sunlight coming through the foundation. If you don’t see any, that’s a good sign, but take a closer look with a flashlight, paying special attention to areas where ducts, pipes, and wiring are concentrated.

Seal any gaps you find using a quality, flexible caulk or expandable foam. In addition, install weather stripping around the crawl space entry door. If the floor down there is either soil or gravel, carpet it with thick plastic sheeting (to combat moisture problems). Use bricks or heavy rocks to keep the sheets in place.

Finally, install insulation between the floor joists. That’ll ensure that what happens in the crawl space, temperature-wise, stays in the crawl space.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.

Bob Vila Radio: Sump Pumps Need Maintenance, Too

Periodic maintenance ensures that your sump pump remains a first line of defense against the extensive, expensive damage caused by basement flooding.

With melting snow and spring rains just around the corner, now is the most important time of year for sump pump maintenance.

Sump Pump Maintenance


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON SUMP PUMP MAINTENANCE or read the text below:

First things first, remove the cover on the sump pump pit, check the interior, and get rid of any debris that’s settled there. To test the pump, simply pour some water into the pit. Once the water level reaches nine inches or so, the pump should kick on and send water out of the house via the exit pipe.

Provided the sump pump itself is working as it should be, give a little thought to the exit pipe. Lots of folks install flexible hoses on the end of their exit pipes to help move pumped water even farther away from the house. In winter, those hoses are often removed to prevent damage from freezing. The trouble is that if the pump runs during the winter (without the extension hose in place), water exits right next to the foundation. To get around that problem now or in the future, keep a couple of hoses on hand. If you notice the sump pump running a lot during a period of freezing temperatures, simply reattach one of the hoses to the exit pipe. If it freezes, switch it with the other hose. It can also help to wrapping some pipe insulation around the hose.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.

Get More from Your Garage: Top Tips for Strategic Storage

Corral the chaos in your garage and turn the space into a convenient, efficient storage area with careful planning and, contrary to your fears, only a reasonable amount of effort.

Garage Storage Ideas


Is it starting to seem like there’s no storage space left in your house? Is every closet, cabinet, and drawer totally crammed? Well, the solution to your storage woes may be as close as your garage. Sure, it’s already housing your tools and gardening gear, and maybe even your car, but the average garage can fit more boxes and bins than most rooms inside the house. With planning, you can transform your garage from a messy catchall into an efficient, well-organized household annex.

Birds of a Feather
First things first: Get rid of anything you no longer use. After you’ve winnowed down the contents of your garage, sort what’s left into groups. Items used together ought to be stored together. Where possible, place like items into stackable, clear plastic containers with lids. (Opaque bins work in a pinch—just be sure to label each one.) These will keep your belongings clean, protect against insects and rodents, increase the amount of usable floor space, and cut down on visual clutter.

Garage Storage Ideas - Wall Shelving


Location, Location, Location
Efficient use of space partly depends on positioning stored items in a thoughtful, strategic way. For instance, are there certain items in the garage that you’re likely to need on a regular basis? If so, locate these items near the door so that retrieving them only requires a quick and painless trip. Meanwhile, stash rarely used or seasonal items, such as sleds and skis, in harder-to-reach spots.

Climb the Walls
In many garages, there’s a simple key to staying organized and making the most of every inch: keep things off the floor. By capitalizing on the wall space, you can fit more into your garage without sacrificing access. What type of wall storage you choose ultimately depends on your needs, budget, and preferences. Many homeowners opt for one or a combination of the following storage standbys:

Pegboard. Inexpensive and easy to install, pegboard has been a garage storage favorite for generations. By outfitting your pegboard with a custom combination of compatible hooks, clamps, bins and shelves, you can use this utilitarian method to store and organize just about anything of modest weight.

Open shelving. Whether a wall-mounted track system or a set of stand-alone units, open shelves are affordable, versatile, and user-friendly. Plus, depending on their construction, 12- or 16-inch-deep shelves are typically capable of holding the heavier items on your storage radar (unlike pegboard).

Closed cabinetry. If you plan to park your car in the garage, cabinets with doors may be most desirable, because closed storage means not having to come face-to-face with paint cans and garbage bags every time you leave or arrive home. Keep in mind, however, that cabinets—customizable, with countless material and style options—generally cost more than other solutions. And being unable to accommodate very large items, cabinets are most effective when used in conjunction with another storage system.

Panelized systems. Here, entire walls are covered with specially designed panels that hold any number of companion add-ons (e.g., hooks and shelves). Though panelized systems can handle heavy and awkwardly sized items, that strength and utility comes at a cost, especially since some products require pro installation.

Moving On Up
For certain infrequently used belongings, the ceiling provides ideal, out-of-the-way storage space. Ladders and seasonal gear can be kept here, hung by clips or straps fastened to the joists. Or you can take advantage of hoist pulley systems, which cleverly operate like the cords on window blinds. Bear in mind, however, that ceiling storage must be oriented so that it doesn’t interfere with the operation of the garage door.

A Note on Safety
As you sort and reorganize the pieces in your garage, keep safety top of mind. It can be dangerous to store gasoline and propane in the garage; a single spark could lead to tragedy. Likewise, if you have children or pets, you should store hazardous materials and power tools far out of reach or, ideally, inside a locked cabinet.

Bob Vila Radio: An Easy DIY Way to Seal Your Garage Door

Cold air and moisture often infiltrate at the point where the garage door meets the concrete floor. With this trick, you can seal the garage door with little effort and at next to no cost.

Though garage doors do a pretty good job of keeping bad guys away from your car, they’re not so good at keeping out the elements. That’s especially true if the floor in your garage is uneven.

Seal Garage Door


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to BOB VILA ON SEALING GARAGE DOORS or read the text below:

Try this: Open the garage door so that the bottom is about head high. Cut a length of 3/4″ foam pipe insulation to fit the width of the door. Then position the insulation against the bottom of the door with the slit facing down.

Next, spread the slit in the insulation and use a screw gun or electric drill to attach the insulation to the bottom of the door. To keep the screws from tearing through the insulation, you’ll probably want to add washers around the heads of the screws.

Pipe insulation doesn’t exactly add to curb appeal. So if you don’t want it poking out the bottom of the door so it’s visible from the street, just drive your screws a little more toward the backside of the door than the front.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.