Homeowner Helping Hand
By: Danny Lipford
When a homeowner needs a helping hand, we lend it. When they need a lot of hands, we bring the whole Today’s Homeowner team.
Annette Evans grew up in this house and later returned to care for her sick mother. She went on to raise three daughters in this home, and two of her granddaughters have lived here as well. Through all of life’s changes, this special house has always been a constant in Annette’s life.
A few years ago Annette had an accident on the job. Due to her physical and financial limitations, she is unable to maintain her house and yard as she once could. Joseph Bayer, who works with a local community service agency, made us aware of Annette’s situation and asked if we could help with some home repairs and improvements.
I enlisted reinforcements from our “behind the scenes” team at Today’s Homeowner to pitch in with the long to-do list – and have a bit of fun along the way.
Interior Maintenance and Improvement
First things first, Annette’s water heater had a slow leak that caused a lot of rusting on the top. Because the water heater was so old and full of sediment, it took a while to drain. After it emptied, we moved the old one out and connected the new one donated by our friends at the local Home Depot. Watch How to Drain a Water Heater for more info.
In the bathroom, a plumber had disconnected the plumbing to the sink when a pipe burst and never hooked it back up. We took care of that, so Annette could use her bathroom sink again.
Another major issue was a badly damaged tub surround. After removing the old surround, we filled the void behind the wall with plywood. We applied a generous amount of construction adhesive to the plywood before pressing the surround liner to the wall. Using a technique called “burping,” we pulled the liner away from the wall to introduce air behind it to make it adhere better. The liner for the opposite wall had to be drilled out for the faucets. Once we completed all three flat sections, we applied the two corner sections before sealing the perimeter with caulk. Watch How to Caulk Around a Tub.
Although the bathroom tiles were in good condition, the grout was loose or missing in a lot of places, making the floor uneven and unsafe, so we floated new grout in the bathroom. Watch How to Apply and Seal Grout on Tile Floors.
To make it easier for Annette to get in and out of the tub, we installed a new grab bar from Moen in the shower. We finished things off in the bathroom with a fresh coat of white paint and a colorful new shower curtain to tie it all together.
The kitchen got a coat of cheery yellow paint and white trim to match her decorative plates.
Exterior Maintenance and Landscaping
Annette’s home doesn’t have central heat, so the fireplace is her only source of heat in the winter. Unfortunately, a massive tangled mess of shrubbery and vines had overtaken the chimney cap and roof, rendering her fireplace unusable. We’d never seen anything like it before! It took a lot of hard work from a lot of folks, but we eventually cleared all the overgrown vegetation.
A fallen tree blocked the driveway, so we cut the trunk and limbs into firewood and moved them out of the way. This was an opportunity for some team members to use a chainsaw for the first time, and to say they got a kick out of it is an understatement.
Since Annette uses a cane, the front and back steps were difficult and dangerous for her use. We built much-needed handrails and applied skid-resistant strips to the steps.
The house’s curb appeal increased by leaps and bounds. We pressure washed the vinyl siding, freshened the trim paint, pruned the overgrown azalea bushes, removed vines that were overtaking the siding, and did some general landscaping. Check out Basic Shrub Pruning Techniques for tips.
And, for the finishing touch, we built a new mailbox post and installed a new mailbox. Watch How to Build a Mailbox Post to see how we went about it.
Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
A Better Way to Roll Up a Rug
People usually roll rugs from end to end, causing it to bend and crack in the middle. A better technique is to roll the rug diagonally, from corner to corner. Watch the video.
Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Husky Portable Workbench
Not all your projects happen in the workshop. This portable jobsite workbench from Husky is strong, durable, lightweight and easily transportable. It is available at The Home Depot. Watch the video.