Question: The doorbell chime mounted in my front hall is more than 30 years old and works poorly. It also looks terrible compared to the new models I have seen.

I want to remove this old door chime and replace it with a new one. Is this a simple job that I can do myself , or will I need an electrician?

Answer: Assuming you are moderately handy and have done some simple electrical repairs, this should be a fairly easy job, as long as you buy a new chime that draws no more current than the old one. Otherwise you may have to call in an electrician to replace the old transformer with a new one of larger capacity.

However, if you buy a model that can be operated by the same transformer, start off by first shutting off the circuit breaker that controls power to that transformer. It may be mounted on or near the chime, inside an adjacent closet, or next to the main electrical panel.

Disconnect the three wires coming from your old chime and label the end of each wire with a strip of tape to match the terminals on the old chime - "T" or "TR" (for transformer) "F" (front doorbell button) and "R" (rear or side doorbell button).

Unscrew and remove the old chime and its housing then mount the new one in its place.

Connect the wires to the terminals on the new chime so they match the same terminals as on the old chime.

Question: My very old house has an unfinished attic that we use for storage. The attic is well ventilated with roof vents and an automatic fan and it is floored over with a small amount of insulation underneath.

Several contractors I've spoken to say that adding more insulation will help prevent heat loss in winter, but others insist that adding more insulation would be a waste of money.

What do you think?

Answer: Adding more insulation will definitely help to cut down on your fuel bills and will increase comfort, although some heat will always pass through.

The easiest way to add insulation would be to add more under the flooring, although this would mean picking up the floor boards and may require raising the floor a little in order to allow for the added thickness of the new insulation.

Question: We live in a warm climate and have central air conditioning. There is very little insulation under the roof as the inside ceiling consists of pine boards that we do not want to cover or disturb. Can insulation be installed on the outside of the existing roof?

Answer: There is no good roofing material that I know of that is also a good insulation.

If you were to install some type of rigid foam insulation on top of your existing roof you would then have to install new roofing over the top of this.

But don't forget you would also have to install it so that you allow for some air space between the two roof surfaces for maximum ventilation.

Question: I want to put down a brick walk in the front of my house. A friend advised me that the best way to do this is to first pour a concrete base and then laying the bricks in mortar cement on top of the concrete.

Another claims that it is a lot easier to lay the bricks on top of a bed of firmly packed sand.

What do you think?

Answer: It is a lot easier to lay the bricks on a sand base and if you do the job by first laying down a bed of gravel with the sand on top of this, it should last quite a while.

Dig down about six inches below ground level, then spread a three-inch layer of gravel over the bottom. Tamp this down firmly, then spread two inches of coarse sand on top of the gravel.

Level the surface, then tamp firmly or roll with a heavy, water-filled roller (you can rent these in many areas).

It is also a good idea to install a border of pressure-treated 2x4 lumber along each side of the walk to keep the bricks from shifting and keep the sand and gravel from spreading.

2004 Bernard Gladstone


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