Easy 3-step garage door safety checklist

When I was a kid, my friends and I used to play a game.  We would press the garage door button, and try to run out as fast as we could, racing to get under the garage door before it closed.  We had no idea how dangerous this was, and obviously this was before 1993 when new laws required safety sensors because kids were getting hurt by this exact game.

Now, all garage doors have Autoreverse sensors and other safety sensors.  They are super easy to check, and I reccomend that you test them at least twice a year.  Sign up to receive an email when it is time to check your garage door.

Following these easy to do tips will help keep your garage in the best working order, and prevent costly repairs.

If your Garage door won’t open, I’d also check these three things.  Each of them could be the problem.

  1. Autoreverse Sensor
  2. Door pressure Test
  3. Balance Test

Autoreverse Sensor

Testing your garage door sensor is very easy – takes about 30 seconds.  On either side of your garage door are little black sensors that send an invisible beam across the opening.  They should be mounted about 6-inches from the ground.

To test the garage door sensor: open your garage door take an object that is taller than the sensor (I use an old Amazon box), and place it directly in the garage door opening.  Then press the button to close the door.  It should NOT close.   My garage door flashes it’s overhead light to signal that something is in the way.  Now, remove the box, and try to close the door.  It should close with no problems.

Also, If your garage door is not closing, you may want to check the sensors, and make sure nothing is in their path blocking the invisible laser.

Door Pressure Test

To test the door pressure sensor, take a piece of wood (I use a scrap 2×4) and place it so it is UNDER the beam of the sensor.  In other words it needs to be less than 6 inches high.  With the wood in place, press the button to close the garage door.  When it touches the wood, it should automatically reverse.

Balance Test

This is the most complicated test, but also just as important as the others.  Start by pulling on the little red rope that hangs down to release the garage door from the belt or chain.  (Tip:  If you ever lose power, and need to get your garage door open, just pull this handle, and you should be able to easily lift your garage door.)  Next, using your hands, lift the garage door to chest height.  It should balance half way open.   If it doesn’t your spring may need to be re-tensioned (let the professionals do this).  If it passes the test, close the door, and push up on the lever to re-connect the door to the opener.



It’s always the little things

I don’s know about you, but in addition to having my house look nice, I like for everything to work. Sadly that isn’t always the case. AmIright?

The house is never perfect, and there are always 101 things on my honey-do list that need constant attention.  Plus, I’m sure you will agree, everyone and everything wants our attention.  I’m 2 for 2 aren’t I?

For the last few weeks (ahem – months), the switch for the garbage disposal next to the sink has been on the fritz.  It would work, sometimes, but only if you jiggled it, or sort of leaned on in in a certain direction when you toggled it on.

Just so you know it’s the switch on the right  – closest to the solar hula girl we got when we were in Hawaii last time.  The other switch is for our dishwasher.  Yep, we have a separate switch that can turn on, and off the dishwashwer independent of any controls on the actual machine.  But that’s a different story.

These kinds of things drive me crazy.  You expect them to work, and they just don’t.  I’ve got a few of these things around the house – stuff like the front porch light that only seems to work when it’s cold outside.  Or the little piece of baseboard that always seems to fall down because it wasn’t nailed in 100%

There’s no need to get into all the details about how to change an electrical switch – there are hundreds of useful YouTube videos for that.  I’ll just share some sexy photos from the process – starting with the new flush mount switches and new cover plate.

The whole process took about an hour – it would have been faster had each switch not been on it’s own circuit.  And the overall TOTAL cost was about $6.  Each switch was $2, and the cover plate was a buck and a half, and now they also match the rest of the switches in our house.

I didn’t opt for the heavy duty switches which are reccomended for this area – because soon we will be remodeling our kitchen.  Obviously, as you can see from the oudtated 4×4 white tiles, and original laminate countertops.

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The easiest way to remove a popcorn ceiling

Ever since I put up a post about popcorn ceiling removal I’ve gotten hundreds of hits from Pinterest & Google about popcorn ceiling removal.  Thanks for visiting, and I hope you find this little blog post helpful.  Ask your questions in the comments below.

I hate ceilings with texture.  Ceilings should be smooth, flat, and painted white.  Not just any white, but ceiling white (it’s a special white paint for ceilings).  To me, any room that doesn’t have a normal ceiling just looks weird.

Plus it doesn’t take that long to scrape.  Maybe an hour or two for a normal sized bedroom.  Most of the time is used to take all the furniture out, anyway.

Increase the value of your home by $10,000

Every house I buy, move in to, or remodel, gets this treatment.  It is messy, but the results are incredible, and I know for a fact that it increases resale value (because I’m a Realtor).  Exactly how much is hard to say, but when the room is scraped and painted, with no traces of texture on the ceiling, it seems larger, brighter, and cleaner.  And I know that is what homebuyers want.  I’d guess that for every room you remove a popcorn ceiling, you are adding $1,000 to the value of your house.

So if you have a 3 bedroom house, you can easily add $10,000 value to your home – (kitchen, 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, living room, dining room, hall, and entry way).

Items needed for popcorn ceiling removal

You will need to buy 5 things if you don’t have them already.  You can get them from your local hardware store, Lowes, or Home depot, or even Amazon.com (I have Amazon Prime, and buy everything from them) .

  1. A ladder – 6 foot or high enough so you can easily reach your ceiling -(Yes I even bought my ladder from Amazon Prime).
  2. A Garden Sprayer.
  3. A large flat blade putty knife or scraper. 10 inches is the perfect size. larger, and the ceiling might not easily scrape off, and smaller and you need to make more passes
  4. a bottle of Dawn dish soap
  5. A gallon of distilled white Vinegar.

Should I test my popcorn ceiling for asbestos?

YES!  Absolutely!  Asbestos is a known carcinogen.  It causes mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer that might not show up for years.  Testing your ceiling is easy, and can potentially save your life, as well as your family.  Asbestos use in homes ended in 1978, so if you home is newer than that, you don’t have to worry.  But in older homes, it is worth a quick check.

Testing your ceiling is easy.  I just did a quick web search for Asbestos Testing in Austin, and came up with a couple of labs.  After a couple of quick phone calls to get the price and how long it would take.  I found a place that could do it in 24 hours for $30 bucks.  They asked me to scrape a 2×2 inch section into a plastic bag, and drop it off.

I did just that, and got the results – no Asbestos.  I was cleared to proceed.  If your sample does come back positive, you may need to hire a company and follow local or state guidelines for removal and disposal.

 How to scrape popcorn off your ceiling – step by step

You are going to want to remove everything from the room.  Take out all the furniture.  Take off any curtains or blinds.  Remove any rugs.  Cover the floor in a large plastic tarp.  I’ve seen other people tape plastic all over the walls, but that’s really not necessary.  Yes, this gets messy, but the scraping action doesn’t get everywhere.  It just falls down on to the floor.  A little tiny bit may get onto the walls, but it easily wipes off with a damp rag.

I tried a bunch of different removers, and found that vinegar and dish soap was the fastest (and cheapest) way to do it.  You can also use plain hot water, but it takes longer.  The idea is to find the right mix so it penetrates the paint and popcorn before dissolving the wallboard underneath.

  • Fill the garden sprayer with HOT Water.  The hotter the better.
  • For every gallon of HOT water add 1 cup vinegar, and 7 tablespoons of Dawn Dishsoap.  Too much soap, and all you are going to get is bubbles.  Too much vinegar, and you are just wasting it.
  • Pump the sprayer.  Pump, pump pump, and make sure you have it good and pressurized.  You want a good stream coming out that sucker, not a little trickle.  Also the pumping action mixes up all the vinegar and dish soap.
  • Scrape popcorn off ceilingSpray the solution on the popcorn ceiling.  The idea is to get it just wet enough so the stuff scrapes off easily, but not so wet that you soak the drywall underneath.  Here’s a guide:  spray enough so it is exactly this wet – just wet enough so it doesn’t drip down in your eyes.  If the water mixture starts dripping onto the floor, you have sprayed too much, and are wasting water, and overwetting the popcorn ceiling, and potentially soaking the drywall.  Get some towels and dry the area that is too wet.  This photo is what it looks like if it wasn’t wet enough.
  • After wetting a 3 foot by 3 foot area, 9 square feet, wait exactly 2 min 37 seconds to let the stuff do it’s job. OK that’s an estimate, not scientific at all.  But you want the solution to soak in.  When done properly, the putty knife just slides across the ceiling, and it is easy to scrape the popcorn off.  Your time may be longer depending on age, amount and type of paint and total styrofoam content of the popcorn.  With a smooth motion, scrape the ceiling with the scraper.  You should get a wide strip of the stuff just falling off the ceiling.  If you don’t, try again.  There isn’t a wrong way.

Soon, you will be able to do a decent sized bedroom in about an hour – in fact, you will probably spend more time cleaning the floor than the ceiling.

Leave a comment with how it worked out for you!

15 Things to do after buying a house

Today at 10:00 I put myself (and my wife) into debt until the year 2039. After 60 minutes, 27 signatures, and 14 initials, we had a bottle of champagne, a huge gift basket of goodies, and two electric garage door openers.

I’m just about to crash for the night, but first I wanted to share with you some thoughts I had throughout today, my first day of home ownership.

15 Things to do after buying a house

  1. Call a locksmith and change all the outside door locks.  You don’t know if somebody’s buddy still has a key, and might decide to let himself in and crash on the couch.
  2. Change utilites to your name: gas, electric, water, sewer, garbage, telephone
  3. Visit the post office, and pick up a change of address packet.  Fill it out.
  4. Make sure you have a pizza delivery phone number programmed into your speed dial.
  5. Buy a big pack of Toilet Paper, and place next to a working toilet.
  6. Check the batteries in your new smoke detectors.
  7. Map out the nearest Ace Hardware, Lowes, and Home Depot, and Gas Station.
  8. Set-up high speed internet access.
  9. Bring your cell phone wall charger, so you don’t have to sit in the car and talk while the phone charges from the lighter adaptor.
  10. Change the Garage door opener codes.
  11. Find out what day is garbage day, and set your iCal alarm to the night before.
  12. Buy a lawnmower, and push it over the grass every week so the homeowner association doesn’t get on your case.
  13. Get a set of basic tools:  Hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, tape measure, ladder, and putty scraper.  No need to go overboard right now.
  14. Get some basic cleaning stuff, including soap and paper towels to put by the sink.  So you can wash and dry your hands as necessary.
  15. Finally, you might want to pick up a toilet plunger, just in case.
  16. BONUS – Leave a review for your agent on Zillow

What did you do after you bought your house?  I’d love to know.  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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