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HANDYMAN Q&A

Sticky door an open and shut case

January 06, 2008

Question: During much of last winter, my front door stuck badly after being fine for four years. Other doors in the house stick at different times throughout the year. What would be the cause?

Answer: Your doors are expanding and contracting. This condition is typical and is a result of the level of moisture in the air. When the air is damp, the doors tend to expand and may rub in several places. When the weather is hot and dry, the doors shrink. Another cause for this condition is the house shifting due to changes in the moisture level in the soil.

You can take two precautions to prevent this from occurring. First, paint or seal the door on all six sides. That is, when painting the front and backside of a door, don't forget to cover the top, bottom, hinge side and latch side. This will protect all exposed surfaces. Second, the crawl space should be ventilated to keep the soil dry. You should also make sure the soil surrounding the foundation is sloped so water runs away from the house.

And don't over-water your lawn. All of these precautions will help minimize the house from shifting and, in turn, prevent your doors from sticking.

Hardwood better than package logs

Question: We burn package logs in the fireplace for heat. Are these man-made logs safe for the fireplace -- will they cause a buildup?

Answer: Most popular brands of man-made logs are safe, though they do contain a lot of wax that could accumulate in the chimney over time. And they are not the best product to produce heat. The best heat will come from seasoned hardwood.

Seasoned means that it has been aged so it's dried out and burns hotter than other logs might. It takes three years to season most firewood. Real wood not only burns hotter but is also less expensive for the amount of heat generated.

For more information, visit www.onthehouse.com.

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