Published: March 30, 2014
Dear readers: There is a security vulnerability at your house that needs to be checked - it's your garage door opener mechanism. That cord and handle hanging from the track is an open invitation to a burglar.
A clothes hanger with a little bent hook on the end can be shoved through the gap in the top of the door. Once it's hooked to that handle, a simple yank will release the door, which then can be raised by hand. The entire procedure takes less than 10 seconds.
The fix is straightforward and cheap. First, remove the cord and handle. Then use a simple zip tie - a plastic strip with notches that electricians use to tie wire bundles together - to secure the little lever to the traveler above (that's the slide that moves back and forth to raise the door). You even can use the same hole the cord went through for this procedure. If you ever need to raise the door manually, you can snip the zip tie with scissors to release the lever and the door.
This is also the time to reevaluate the windows in your garage door. They reveal to even the most casual observer whether someone is home. Plus, they make it quite easy to guide that coat hanger into place to jerk the release cord.
Why not frost the windows so they are translucent but protect privacy? Look for a plastic glass frosting sheet kit at the hardware store. It has a sticky side and applies like regular window tinting film.
Dear Ken: I noticed standing water along my driveway. Apparently the previous owner had buried the black flex pipe there. How should I handle it? - George
Answer: You need to expose all the downspout pipes around your house. Many folks think that using the downspout water as a watering source for plants is a "green" way to save water. But it's a bad idea. The ends of all those pipe should be wide open so the water can flow down the slope away from your house. Otherwise, you risk severe concrete floor and foundation damage. There's one other check you need to make. This black flexible, polyethylene pipe comes in two forms - perforated and solid. The difference is not that obvious. The perforated type has slits inside the grooves. If this is the type used at your house, you need to remove it and replace it with the solid kind so the water doesn't hang around and saturate the ground.
Dear Ken: Our first shower in the morning is lukewarm. After that, it's OK and nice and hot. What's going on? - Kelly
Answer: The water heater thermostat isn't kicking the burner on during the night. So the topmost water in the tank gradually cools. It will help to wrap a "blanket" around the tank. You can buy one at the discount store for less than $15. Also, turn up the dial to a hotter setting, but beware of a scalding hazard for little kids. Finally, it helps to run a load of clothes or dishes first thing in the morning before the initial shower. Otherwise, there's a simpler answer: Make hubby shower first!
Moon is a home inspector whose radio show airs on KRDO (AM 1240 and FM 105.5) at 9 a.m. Saturday. Visit aroundthehouse.com.