Tag Archives: sprinkler leaks

Painting Garage Doors, Hanging Drapes, & Sprinkler Leaks

Excerpt from my regular column in the Santa Barbara News-Press.

Painting Garage Doors

Question: My husband I live in a condominium townhome development in Goleta where each owner is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the exterior of their home. Last week we received a letter in the mail from the property management firm that handles the business of our Home Owners Association, and we have been given notice that our two garage doors need to be painted within the next month. The garage doors are metal, are only 12 years old but they do look pretty bad. Our neighbor painted their garage doors last year but a lot of the paint is now pealing and the old paint is showing through even though they paid a young man to do the work. Can you tell us how to paint our garage doors correctly?

Your Handyman: Painting over a metal surface like a garage door has different requirements than painting over wood or stucco, and you are wise to do a little research beforehand. Homeowners often make the mistake of assuming that painting is a simple trade that anyone can do without any training or experience but like every other building trade, there is no substitute for experience.

Your garage doors are probably made from aluminum or galvanized steel, were painted with a primer coat of paint at the factory, and then a color top coat of paint was applied by the builder 12+ years ago when the homes were built. Over time all types of paint will break down from constant exposure to the weather and sun, will oxidize to varying degrees, the color will fade, and often the surface will take on a chalky appearance.

The first step in your project is to rinse the doors off with your garden hose and then lightly scrub them down with a non metal brush using a mild detergent like simple green. This scrubbing and rinsing will remove most all of the oxidation and grime from the metal and leave a clean surface for the new paint.

Your second step is to apply a single coat of primer to the doors and let the primer dry per the manufacturer’s instructions. The final step is to apply the color top coat of paint mixed to the color specifications required by your Home Owners Association. Be sure to get the color right or if it varies too much from what is required, you may have to paint it over a second time with the correct color.

I suggest using a smaller paint roller, often called a “weenie roller” for this job rather than a full size roller. The weenie roller which is roughly the size of a hot dog (hence the name) will allow you to more easily paint the groves and dips in the door surfaces and will have much less spray than the large roller. Be sure to protect your driveway with plastic drop cloths and to keep a damp rag handy while painting to wipe up the inevitable drops.

It is very important to select the correct primer and top coat otherwise despite all your efforts, the paint job may not hold up well to the elements over time. Personally I have received the best advice on paint and primer selection from an actual paint store as opposed to the paint department of a big box hardware store.  With the correct preparation, primer, paint and a little labor your garage doors will look like new for years to come.

How to hang drapery brackets in drywall

Question: I finally talked my husband into letting me buy new drapes and rods for our guest room but a couple of the brackets are now coming out of the wall. He carefully used the screws that came with the drapery rods but they are not staying in the wall. What do we do?

Your Handyman: Good for you and your husband for tackling this job on your own and getting the drapery brackets correctly fastened to the wall is just a matter of having the appropriate fasteners. It is best to be able to screw the bracket directly onto a wall stud using a self tapping wood screw, but more often than not, there is only drywall or plaster with a hollow space behind.

Go to any hardware store and they will carry an extensive selection of fasteners that are called “hollow wall anchors”. There are several different styles and they basically make a rigid attachment to the drywall by utilizing an expanding head that compresses against the inside surface of the drywall or plaster. The packaging will give a rating of how much weight the hollow wall anchor can support, select one that is appropriate to the weight of the rod & drapery, they are simple to install correctly, and your draperies will be fixed permanently in place.

Sprinkler leaks: Is your water pressure too high?

Question: We have a large yard with almost a ½ acre of grass with sprinklers that have worked just fine for over 20 years. Our problem is that in the past 6 months we have had three different sprinkler pipes spring leaks even though we have cut way back on watering, and I am getting tired of digging up the yard to make repairs. The pipes are the thick white PVC pipes and were all put in by a licensed landscape guy. Have the pipes worn out and now need to be replaced?

Your Handyman: Any time you experience a leak in an interior pipe in your home or an irrigation pipe in your yard, it is prudent to check your home’s water pressure. My guess is that the pressure regulator for your irrigation system has failed and this is the cause of your problems.

The water pipe in your street that delivers water from whichever water district supplies your neighborhood, is a large diameter pipe with very high pressure so that all the homes in the district have adequate supply. The pressure in the water line in the street may be in excess of 200 psi (pounds per square inch) while the pipes inside your home and supplying your sprinklers should not have pressure exceeding about 60 psi for safe service. Once your pressure starts to significantly exceed 60 psi you may start to experience pipe failure.

Somewhere located on the main water supply line to your home between your water meter and the house is a brass plumbing device about the size of a softball called a pressure regulator. The pressure regulator can be easily adjusted to only allow the correct amount of water pressure to pass through it before the water supply enters your home’s plumbing. It is not uncommon for a pressure regulator to fail after 15 -20 years and allow your water pressure to shoot up to levels your pipes can not bear.

Your first step is to check your water pressure using a home water pressure gauge that can be purchased at any hardware store for about $10. The gauge will have a fitting that will screw onto a standard garden hose valve so that you can check the pressure at your outside garden hoses, and also inside your house at the hose valves that supply water to your clothes washer. If your water pressure is over 60 psi then adjust the pressure regulator accordingly. If adjusting the pressure regulator has no effect on the water pressure, then the pressure regulator needs to be replaced. If you are uncertain as to how to do this on your own, then it is time to call a plumber before the next pipe breaks.

-Mark Baird
Owner, YourHandyman & Construction
CA License #935259