Friday, August 15, 2008

Step 3 - Replacing the Back Door

The moulding around the back door was curiously stubborn and would not come off. After some investigation, I determined it was because it was being used as a door latch! Good thing no one ever tried to kick that back door in! So, before we could proceed any further, it became evident that we were going to have to replace the back door. One little hitch:

This behemoth 240v air conditioner was installed in the door jamb, and suspended by steel cables attached to the exterior of the house. Further investigation would reveal that in the formstoning of the back of the house, it in effect cemented in the air conditioner. I used a hammer to smash away the cement holding it in but was still not sure how my waife girlfriend and I would manage to get this thing down without killing ourselves. Fortunately my friend Carl stopped by, and gave us a third hand to lift this thing down from overhead. I put the air conditioner on Craigslist, and it too was gone that same day. Now I had a gaping hole in the back of my house.
Installing the new door was tricky too. Normally you just put screws through the jamb into the frame of the house. However, the frame here is brick. I purchased special concrete screws from Home Depot, which require that a pilot hole be drilled first. Some said the trick was to drill into the mortar since it's softer, but my house was so old, it just crumbled, so I was going to have to drill directly into the brick. I bought a special masonry bit from Home Depot and attempted to drill the holes for the door frame. It was extremely slow going, and I went through several bits. It took about 5 hours to get 5 screws in. I found out in a later project that I should have rented or purchased a hammer drill, which is a drill especially created for drilling into masonry or concrete, and uses a percussive action to crush the brick as it drills. (I later bought a hammer drill and added three more screws, each hole took about 5 minutes... Lesson learned)

Twelve hours after I began this endeavor, the door was in, though I still had a gap above the door where a custom transom window would later go.

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