Thursday, January 19, 2017

What Causes Sweating (Condensation) On The Inside of Windows In The Winter?

The science behind the problem is fairly simple. Warm air expands and can hold more humidity (moisture) than cool air, but when it comes in contact with window glass that is significantly colder than the air, the surface chills and shrinks the air volume. This squeezes out some of the humidity as condensation water on the glass surface.

So, the two things that are necessary for condensation on window glass are 1), a significant temperature difference between the interior surface of the glass and the air and 2), high humidity in the air. You can eliminate, or greatly reduce, sweating window glass by reducing both of the factors that cause it.

We see the solution as something like a “Combination Plate Special” on a Chinese restaurant menu. Pick one from column A and one from column B, and your fortune cookie will read “Happy windows make happy home!”

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Should a Front Door Open In or Out?

Most front entry doors in our area swing inward, and the justification for it used to be that outswing doors are unsafe because their hinge pins are exposed outside, where they are easily popped out by a burglar to get into the house. But that argument doesn’t fly anymore. Most prehung entry door manufacturers now install special security hinges on their outswing doors that have non-removable pins. You must open the door and unscrew one side of each hinge to remove the door. Another type of security pin is only removable when then door is open.

So outswing exterior doors have become more acceptable. But there are pros and cons for both types of door swing. Here’s our list:



-More resistant to high wind and driving rain in a storm. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) recommends outswing exterior doors as more hurricane resistant because “positive pressures actually push them more tightly against the door seals, which helps reduce water intrusion, and because it is much easier to achieve impact resistance from an outward swinging door.” Most exterior doors installed in South Florida’s high-velocity hurricane wind zone are outswing for this reason.

-Not easily forced open from the exterior.


-Not practical in cold regions, where a heavy snowfall could prevent opening the door.

-Not what most people are used to.



-The customary swing for a front door.

-Enables installation of a storm or screen door.


-Easier for a burglar to force the door open with a blunt impact. Conversely, this also makes it faster for fire/emergency services to knock the door down when necessary.

-Less weather resistant than an outswing door.

Exterior doors for commercial buildings always swing outward, with just a few allowed exceptions, because the door must open in the direction of the flow of people exiting the building in an emergency. You will likely have your choice of which way to swing your residential front door, but we recommend checking with the county or municipal building department for any special local restrictions before making your decision. The available floor or landing area for the door swing is another consideration.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Are House Numbers Required By Law On The Front Of A House?

The requirement to have house address numbers is not part of the building code, but is almost universally required by municipal ordinances. Each city or county has a slightly different standard, but their intentions are the same: that your house numbers be clearly visible from the street so that the police, paramedics or a fire engine responding to your 911 emergency call can locate the right house.

The numbers do not have to be on the house itself. They can be on a mailbox, fence, or post in front of the home. The minimum height of the numbers in City of Gulf Breeze is three inches, and in Santa Rosa County it’s four inches. There are also typically specifications on the minimum width of the stroke of each number and that there be sufficient contrast between the numbers and the background for them to be easily readable.

All of this may seem like another example of government’s intrusion on the right of a private citizen to use their own property without interference...until your spouse has a heart attack in the middle of the night and an emergency paramedic van goes screaming by the house, then has to turn around and double back, using a searchlight to try to find your house number.

Also, a common problem that emergency responders have in locating a house is that the numbers are there but have been obscured by foliage growth over time, like in the photo at the top of the page.
Here’s an excerpt from the City of Gulf Breeze ordinance:

Sec. 23-30. Posting of numbers.

New and existing buildings shall have approved address numbers placed in a position to be plainly legible and visible from the street or road fronting the property, whether or not mail is delivered to such building or property. These numbers shall contrast with their background. Address numbers shall be Arabic numerals or alphabet letters. It shall be the duty of the owners of each building in the incorporated area to post the assigned building number on the property in the following manner:

           (1) The building (address) number shall be affixed to the front of the building, or to a separate structure in front of the building (such as mailbox, post, wall, fence, etc.), in such a manner so as to be clearly visible and legible from the public or private way on which the building fronts.

           (2) Numerals shall be Arabic and shall not be less than three inches in height and one-half inch in stroke width for residential buildings, structures, or portions thereof, and at least six inches in height for all other buildings, structures, or portions thereof. Where address identification is required by the fire official on other elevations of buildings, structures, or portions thereof, such numerals shall be not less than three inches in height for residential                  and at least six inches in height for all other buildings, structures, or portions thereof. Existing numbers may be exempt if approved by the city fire inspector.

          (3) The numerals shall be of a contrasting color with the immediate background of the building or structure on which such numerals are affixed.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

How Do I Remove Carpet? | DIY Basics

If you’re shopping for a new car, you have hundreds of choices, and it can be overwhelming. So which car is the best choice in any given segment? regularly evaluates the players in weeklong tests. Kelsey Mays of calls out the winners of each 2016 challenge in this week’s segment of Driving Smart.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How to Match Historic Molding

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O’Connor look at ways to match historic molding.

Time: varies

Cost: varies

Skill Level: Easy


1. Tom uses a molding profile jig to show Kevin how to match historic moldings.
2. Tom pushes the pins of the jig into the molding and it forms an outline of the molding. Homeowners can then trace the design onto a piece of paper and bring it to a mill shop.
3. You can either match that tracing to one a stock profile in a mill shop or they could make a molding for you with a custom knife so you can replicate the profile on your choice of wood.

Monday, January 9, 2017

How Much Is The Ground Required to Slope Away From a House?

The minimum drainage slope of the ground around a home is 6 inches of drop in the first 10 feet away from the home, according to the International Residential Code (IRC) and the Florida Building Code (FBC - M401.3), and this applies to all sides of the home. Where the house is closer to the property line than 10 feet, or walls or other barriers prevent compliance, drains or swales should be constructed to ensure adequate drainage away from the house. Impervious surfaces within 10 feet of the home, such as a driveway, are required to be sloped a minimum of 2 percent away from the house, which equals approximately 1/4 inch per foot.

Draining rainwater away from the home is important to protect your home’s foundation. Although a new home gets inspected by the local building department to be sure it meets these requirements, we often see older homes in which the homeowner’s landscaping has mounted soil that unintentionally reversed the slope of the ground towards the home. This seems to happen most often at inside corners of exterior walls, a place where a lot of water is running off the valley between two intersecting slopes of the roof above—exactly where it is most important keep water from ponding near the foundation.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Make Over Your Master Bath for Less

With too much tub and not enough shower, this master bathroom needed a functional facelift. See how the homeowners achieved a major makeover without blowing their budget.