Storm Door

olddoor.jpgToday was a culmination of sorts. The storm door into the mud room of the “Green Room” of our house has been a ragged mess for years and years. As I look back on it, the problem has probably been that we almost never go into the house from that door, and probably let the snow pile up on it, thereby allowing moisture to creep into the bottom of the door and swelling the bottom part of the core. I has looked ugly for years.

Early this summer, I stopped by 41 Lumber, where I originally bought the door, and told them I’d like to buy a replacement. I got some information on how to contact the warranty department. It involved calling a toll free number and entering some information at the prompts. I was doing fine until they asked for the serial number of the door. The places they told me to look on the door were wrong, and when the time was up for my answer to be given, I had not located the number. The call ended, but I had given them my contact information, and expected a call from them requesting the missing piece of data, which I was prepared to give them. Weeks went by and they never called back.

I did a search online, and found a web page for Larson Doors that essentially asked for the same information as the phone thing did, so I entered it all again, this time complete and correctly. Again I waited for weeks. Again, no response. I went back to 41 Lumber and asked my buddy Joe what he thought I should do next. Joe said he was surprised; that several customers have dealt with the Larson warranty department with good results. Joe gave me the name of the Larson rep. I called him and of course got voice mail. “Here we go again,” my cynical self said. I was surprised with he called me back the next day. It did not happen over night, but I would say that after 3 calls, I got a letter from him in the mail that had a form to fill out. So this makes 3 different types of communication media. Among other things, this form wanted the receipt from my original purchase (probably 15 years ago… I couldn’t find it) and several pictures of the door showing the damage and other door parts. I took the pictures with my digital camera, and took it to the kiosk at Walmart to make prints. Unfortunately, I punched the button for 5x7s instead of the smaller cheaper pictures. Also unfortunately, I chose the cheaper method of printing, which involved coming back the next day. Those pictures cost me over $7!

Anyway, I assembled everything required that I could get my hands on, and mailed it off. I waited again. Lo and behold, about 3 weeks lager I got a letter saying my request for a warranty replacement door had been approved. All I had to do was dial a toll free number (uh-oh) and give them my credit card number for the $50 shipping charges, and my replacement door would be on its way to me in 4-6 weeks. Progress.

The door did arrive FedEx, along with another big package; both waiting on the porch when I got home from a project. I assumed the other package would be parts or something. Well, the other package was some bird cages for a guy I didn’t know that lives on US41 near the Arnheim Rd. I looked him up in the phone book and called him. I told him I had a package that had been delivered here by mistake, and would he like me to call FedEx, or would he like to drive over and pick it up. He drove over Saturday morning, and we had a very nice chat. The cages were for some canaries he raises.

Now that I had my replacement door, I opened the door-sized box and got everything spread out in my workshop. It turns out they don’t give you a complete door. You are responsible for removing the windows, screen, and window casing, plus the door knob and the bottom expander. Then all that stuff has to be transferred to the replacement door, and it needs to be hung. Having a degree in technical communications, I cherish good instructions, and hate bad instructions. Larson did not pass the test. All sorts of unintelligible and unexplained jargon met me at almost every paragraph. For example, they said if I had a retractable screen, I should skip to part 2. What is a retractable screen? Why did I give you the serial number for the door if you have no idea what kind of screen I have? I read through the instructions the best I could, and then put them away and just did my best.

stuckscrew.jpgI stripped the head on the first screw I tried to remove. It was in the “bad” section of the door where water had saturated the core and rusted the screw into the wood. I knew the old door was a throwaway anyway, so I got my heavy wood chisel and hammer out, and removed the wood from around this screw. It still resisted but with some encouraging words and two vice grips, I got it out. newdoor.jpgThe rest came out easily. Then both the old and new door went into the shop and I deliberately moved parts from one to the other. It would have been easy to install the door handle on the wrong side if I had been slightly careless, so I tried my best. It went ok.

It was a bit of a challenge getting it hung so it opened and closed properly (whenever you use a door that opens and closes properly, there is a carpenter behind that project that knows what they are doing.) When Alice got home from work today, I had a much nicer door to show her.

docksit.jpgTo celebrate we walked out to the back pond and sat on the dock as is our habit. If I had anything like the Photoshop skills necessary to enhance this picture, I probably would have done so, but I do promise that this is a real picture of the calm waters of the pond reflecting the perfect fall colors during the magic hour of September 27, 2010. We’ve said it before and we said it again tonight… we are really lucky to live where we do.

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