Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Closet Organizing - 5 tips for a successful project

It’s amazing the amount of storage space you can gain by organizing your closets, pantries and sheds and installing a shelving system that uses the space more efficiently and effectively.

If you’ve decided it’s time to organize your closet space. You’ll want to consider a few things before you head off to the hardware store to ensure a successful project. Here are some great products you can install yourself Easy Track and interMETRO or you can come up with your own system using standard shelving and supports.

1. Planning is everything! “Measure twice, cut once” is an old carpenter’s saying and one it will do you well to remember. Before buying your product you’ll want to document as much about the space you’ll be working with as possible and consider the following:
  • What are the measurements of the space? ( length, width and height)
  • What ‘obstacles’ are in the way? (door, windows, outlets, switches, etc)
  • How will I attach this to my walls and/or where are the ‘studs’ (see tip #2 for finding a stud)
  • What material are my walls? (drywall, brick, lathe & plaster, etc.). If your walls are wood framed they will be covered with either drywall or lathe & plaster depending on the age of your home. Homes built after WWII are typically drywall and before lathe & plaster.

  • Use a planning work sheet. Here is one supplied by Easy Track that may help.

2. Find and mark all your studs (wood framed walls). If you don’t have a stud finder you should buy one they are inexpensive and easy to use. I suggest purchasing an electronic stud finder. Some simple tips to make finding your studs easier:

  • Locate an electrical outlet (receptacle) in your wall. There should be a stud on one side or the other of that receptacle, use your stud finder to verify.

  • Measure 16 inches from the location of the first stud and use your stud finder to verify the next stud. If you don’t find one at 16” inches, try 18” then 24”. Once you’ve found the 2nd stud you will know the spacing or layout of your studs for the rest of the wall. They will be evenly spaced apart at the distance you determined.
  • Find and mark all the studs in the space you are working within. I suggest using blue painter’s tape.

3. Gather all your tools. Here is a typical list of tools that are used when installing closet systems and shelving.

  • Power drill/screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • 2 ft level
  • Hammer
  • Chalk line
  • Step ladder
  • Hack saw

4. Choose the right anchors or fasteners. The pre-designed systems will include all the anchors and fasteners you will need to install the product but if you’re creating your own space you’ll need to plan ahead. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:

  • Wood screws – these will be used to attach supports directly to the wood studs. Be sure to choose the appropriate length. 1 ¼ to 1 ½ should be long enough for most projects
  • “Molly Bolts” – these are great for installing supports between the studs in a wood framed wall. They are easy to use and provide good strength.
  • “Red Heads” or masonry anchors. If you’re installing your shelving into brick, concrete or block walls you’ll want to buy these specialty anchors.
  • Toggle Bolts – these are ideal for heavy duty support and if any attachments need to be made to ceilings.

5. Level & Plumb, you’ll be glad you took the time. Take some extra time when installing your supports to be sure everything is level (horizontal) and plumb (vertical).

Bonus Tip – Still unsure? Then consider taking the Workshop for Women class “My Screws are Loose – hanging things on walls & ceilings” You’ll learn all you need to know about anchors, fasteners, finding a stud and more.

Enjoy your new space.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why your home needs to breathe

A student recently told me he had his house evaluated by an Energy Analyst who told him that attic ventilation wasn’t important. After my outburst of ‘that’s a load of *&#! I explained the importance of attic ventilation and decided it would be the topic for my next blog posting.

I spend a lot of time reading and studying about residential building systems as a home inspector, handywoman and teacher to other homeowners. It is important to understand that there must be a balance between attic ventilation and the other systems in the house. It is not necessarily a more is better situation. The key is adequate ventilation.

The following information contains facts about the importance of ventilating your attic space as related to energy efficiency, indoor air quality and structural integrity.

Ventilation and cooling efficiencies.
Cooling your home is one of the more difficult systems in your home to control. The cost of cooling your home can differ significantly from your neighbor’s home simply by virtue of a few simple things. One of the most important is your roof and attic space. In the book, Residential Energy (cost savings and comfort for existing buildings), it is noted “ Homes with reflective roof coatings, at least R-19 insulation and good attic ventilation, may experience two-thirds less solar heat gain than those homes with darker roofs, little insulation and poor ventilation.” The less solar heat gain the less cooling costs incurred.

Indoor Air Quality
There are a number of things in our homes that contribute to polluting our indoor air; combustion by-products such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide; volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from solvents, cleaners, paints & furniture; Biological particles from pets, plants and other critters in our homes. The only way to handle this indoor air pollution is to have proper ventilation of our living space to allow regular air exchanges with outdoor air. One of the key components to this air exchange system is the ventilation in our attic space.

Structural Integrity
Ventilation in an attic is very important to maintaining the structural integrity of our roofing system. The ventilation allows moisture that accumulates in the attic from bathing, cooking and other activities in to dissipate. It also reduces heat buildup during the summer months. If the attic is inadequately ventilated moisture can cause numerous problems including delaminating of wooden roofing materials, water streaks on interior walls, peeling and flaking of paint and damage to insulation and other components. The heat and moisture build up in the attic space can also cause premature wear of the roof covering severely reducing it’s life.

Residential Energy – cost savings and comfort for existing buildings – John Krigger, Chris Dorsi
The Complete Book of Home Inspections – Norman Becker P.E.
Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation