Questions tagged [old-house]

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25
votes
5answers
28k views

What should be done before using a fireplace that has not been used in decades?

We are moving into a house with a fire-place. The current tenants (friends of ours), have been living there just short of 2 decades, and have never used it once. The house is about 90 years old, so it ...
20
votes
8answers
12k views

What is this pipe coming out of the basement floor?

I’m finishing an old (1930) empty basement and have a random pipe coming out of the floor. ⁠I have no clue what it is or what it went to as it sits alone in the space. ⁠It is metallic (tested with a ...
19
votes
1answer
3k views

What is this balloon with “eyes” printed on it, hanging from the eave on this house?

I have seen this, or something very similar on various houses in the city I live in. It is rare enough to be remarkable, but common enough to make me think it is a "thing". Any ideas?
16
votes
10answers
15k views

How do I drywall when the studs are not flush? [duplicate]

I have a problem with my bathroom. I recently had someone come and switch the door from the kitchen side to the other side while redoing my kitchen. He did a great job and the kitchen looks great. ...
9
votes
5answers
3k views

What are the dangers of hidden boxes?

I've been remodeling my 1924 house, and have been slowly re-wiring, and splitting up an old "mega circuit" where half the house is all wired into one circuit. In the process of doing so I ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

What is this orange yellow substance on my wooden studs inside walls?

There's some kind of orange yellowish looking substance that forms into tiny bubbles (it looks sticky, but I haven't touched it). It seems to be on my floor joists and wall studs. The house is from ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

What is this metal bar in my 1950s electrical box?

I recently bought a house and am in the process of replacing all the ungrounded outlets with GFCI outlets. I was able to install one correctly in a bedroom, but there are two others that I wasn't able ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Mystery current on neutral wires coming into outlet box

In reworking outlets and switches in our 1960's California home to use AlumiConn connectors + copper pigtails where needed (instead of older wire nuts + Noalox), I came across a duplex wall box in the ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Using new lumber in an old wall with larger lumber dimensions

I am trying to widen the doorway to a room in a house that was build in 1905. the framing is 16 on center, however the lumber is wider than a standard 2x4. by about a 1/2 inch. (the actual dimensions ...
5
votes
2answers
159 views

Minimum ampacity for circuits in a home from 1964

I’m attempting to fact-check a seemingly very dubious claim from my landlord, but I’m having a great deal of trouble finding useful information on older electrical codes, especially in a form that I ...
5
votes
1answer
295 views

What is this panel in basement wall of 1940s house?

When I removed a cabinet from our basement wall today I discovered the panel in the photo below. The panel is metal, approximately 2 ft wide and 1 ft high. It has five 1.5 inch holes in it, each one ...
4
votes
3answers
797 views

Reasons why a receptacle would fail

A friend has asked for my help to replace a wall receptacle that has stopped working. I asked if it was loose-fitting or otherwise physically worn out. She said that plugs fit tightly and it generally ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

How do I move a door hinge out 1/8“ (door is too tight to the stop molding, makes ”paint popping" noise)?

In an older home, due to layers of paint, I have several doors that close too tight to the stop molding. If left closed the paint binds up and "pops" (it must be left closed for two or three hours ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Two way door lock for thin door

I'm converting one of the rooms in my 1840 house into an office. The thing is I have 5 kids and need to be able to lock the door so I can have some level of quiet. I also don't want the kids tinkering ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

How to straighten a sagging wooden house?

I realize that this question is probably the least DIY-type of question one could imagine, certainly for an amateur. I'm for now simply curious about what options exist. This is an old wooden house, ...
3
votes
2answers
5k views

Is it OK if the house's roof makes noise

I moved from Europe to the USA(OH). I noticed a couple of things that worry me. Every house in the US that I entered makes cracking or squeaking noise. I never experienced this in Europe buildings. I ...
3
votes
2answers
730 views

1730 House how to make Ceiling Level

We had a fire last year and had to remove our plaster ceilings. We’re left with beams that have all kinds of shims etc. that were used to level the lath. Every drywaller has had a different idea of ...
3
votes
1answer
181 views

Pulling treads and risers back into position in a housed / closed stringer staircase

I recently moved into an 80+ year old house and am looking to fix up the main staircase. It seems to be the original (oak?) wood stair that is built using the closed / housed / mortised stringers that ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

How to get rid of old house smell?

Our house is pretty old. It had an old house smell when we bought it. It's not a mold smell, not a sewer, not cat urine. It's a smell of old wooden furniture or books. The house has hardwood floors ...
3
votes
1answer
399 views

Is it okay to reuse Alumiconn connectors?

After having redone the aluminum-to-copper pigtails in my house's electrical outlets using AlumiConn connectors, I subsequently had to undo a few to debug a wiring problem. All I did is unscrew the ...
3
votes
4answers
293 views

help with improving HVAC performance on the second floor of an old house

I'm hoping some of you can offer some advice on how best to add a second AC in our home -- or on whether we should look for a different solution. I should say upfront that I've done a lot of reading ...
3
votes
1answer
81 views

Properly Updating Drains for Basement Bathroom Update

Pictures https://imgur.com/a/olBlrHG basically explain it. It was a "full bath" when we bought it and sold as one, (and its recorded as such for tax purposes). I want to convert it to laundry room/...
3
votes
1answer
7k views

Question on toilet mounting; No visible bolts?

OK,In the early 80-81, My Aunt allowed her Husband to build in a dead Attic space over the Foyer that has 15-17 ft ceiling, a rather sizable Laboratory(I'm not quite sure what to call it.). the floor ...
3
votes
1answer
301 views

New plaster over top of exposed horsehair plaster in Bathroom

I've taken wainscoting off of my bathroom wall that seems to have been around since the house was built (1900). Under one of the walls is an exposed horsehair plaster that was done right up against ...
3
votes
1answer
464 views

Internal walls supported by rotten wood

We've an old house from 1890 and are replacing rotten and wood worm eaten beams and floors. But, whilst doing this we've found that the internal walls have been built on top of planks of wood placed ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Removing old electrical box in ceiling

I have hit an obstacle in my quest to replace my light fixture. The current electrical box in the ceiling is a very old type as shown in the picture I attached. How does one go about removing this? ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

GFCI install in old house

My house was built in the 1940s and only part of the electrical has been upgraded. I am trying to replace an old outlet on my screened in porch with a weather resistant GFCI outlet but cannot get it ...
2
votes
1answer
125 views

What kind of wall material produces orange dust, and how should I work with it?

I live in a townhome that was constructed in 1890 in the US and remodeled sometime in the past 20 years. Most of the walls are drywall, but the walls that separate my home from the units on either ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Hardware for a barn/sliding door that cantilevers into free space when open

I've salvaged an old door from a neighbor's demolition to upgrade the door of my small laundry closet. I thought it would be interesting to mount the door as a sliding barn door, both as a visual ...
2
votes
2answers
678 views

Structural cross joists and load-bearing walls (century home)

I have a friend that recently took possession of a century home. Its a 4 plex and He was told it was an old school house (at least at some point in time). We’re experienced weekend warriors but ...
2
votes
1answer
239 views

Safety when modifying old electrical work

I have a relatively old house, built in the 1950s. I am slowly updating it to have smart switches etc., but the existing electrical wiring is fairly haphazard. Just yesterday I replaced a dimmer ...
2
votes
1answer
499 views

Passing wire down through Exterior Wall

Replacing some old wiring with crumbling insulation. One of the wires passes down through an exterior wall from the attic, to an outlet on the second floor, and continues down to the first floor. I ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Kitchen sink draining into catch basin

For a house that I'm in the process of buying, there is what I think is called a "catch basin" in the backyard (under a manhole-looking cover). It seems that the kitchen sink may be draining into this,...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Why are there shims under my studs?

My house was built in 1928 (in Altadena, CA). My detached garage looks like the same vintage, but I don't know for sure. On at least 2 of the garage walls, there are shims between the sill/mud plate ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Sealing inside of external brick wall

We've solid brick, external walls, about 10" thick, and have moisture seeping through. We have plaster on the walls which we'd like to take off to seal the walls inside, then replaster. So far our ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Attaching a heavy item to a 'powdery' external wall

I have a house in the UK built circa 1870. The external walls are London brick in Flemish bond I think, and are in a single layer (no cavity wall construction). At some point many tens of years ago, a ...
2
votes
3answers
124 views

Why does water accumulate on the hardwood floors in my 1930 home?

My home was build 1930 and nothing has been updated. In my downstairs bedroom under anything that sits on the floor from my bed, night stands, dog crate, and other things the floors will puddle with ...
2
votes
1answer
106 views

Fixing leak in tub overflow with old style drain closer

I couldn't find any examples of my tub drain lever online, so I can't figure out how to remove it. The overflow is leaking, so I'd like to open it up and see what the gasket is like to replace it. On ...
2
votes
1answer
109 views

Ceiling fan wiring

How do I wire a new ceiling fan to the wiring in the picture?
2
votes
4answers
237 views

Door Does Not Close Properly

I have a door in my home to one of the bedrooms, that will not "catch" when you close it. If you lift up on the doorknob then it "catches" and will remain shut. I was curious, if I put a "stronger" ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Puzzled installing combination GFCI outlet/switch to replace switch in old house

In brief: in replacing an old light switch in an old house with a GFCI combo switch/outlet, facing existing wiring that doesn't quite match instructions, I get the GFCI outlet working but not the new ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

What causes “old smell” in a clean but older house? [closed]

Older homes in warmer climates seem to have a somewhat common smell to them, even after cleaning them. Does someone with experience renovating such homes know what tends to be the cause of these odors?...
2
votes
1answer
4k views

How do you determine the date a house was built?

I was told our house was 18 years old when we bought it. The date it was "built" was listed as 1998. However, the building permit was issued in 1996. What determines the date a house was built, when ...
2
votes
2answers
14k views

Yellow stains on plaster wall patches

I live in an old 1910s house and it turns out my walls aren't drywall. It is constructed of rock or some type of masonry. Over it, there is a really, really old wallpaper, which also have over itself, ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Pendant light cord too long

How would you shorten a pendant lamp's electrical cable? It's a USA home from the 1920s. The question has been asked before, but wrapping an electrical cable around a metal caribeaner seems dangerous....
2
votes
2answers
2k views

How can I level and finish a slanted deck that was enclosed?

Hello everyone I am new to this so I apologize if I seem a little slow mentally. I have a 104 yr old home that at one point had a deck that was completely enclosed. my issue is that the floor was ...
2
votes
0answers
75 views

What is the right way to plumb bathroom drainage across small joists?

Finished the demo part of the bathroom remodel to find pretty significant damage to the floor joists caused by the original builder's "design" (see photos/video). Setting aside how I'm going ...
2
votes
0answers
50 views

Changing out ceiling light fixture and found no box, - how to proceed?

I am replacing a ( hanging ) ceiling fixture in the dining room and found only wires and no box ( see photos ). There's no junction box and the wires are old and gnarly looking. The house was built ...
2
votes
1answer
352 views

How to repair integrated window screens from a 1930s house?

I'm purchasing a house built in 1937. All the windows and fixtures are original. A fair number of the windows have an integrated screen that pulls down from the top of the window. The tracks are ...
1
vote
4answers
75 views

Mounting to an old pan-style electric box

I did something slightly stupid when preparing to mount a new fixture to a very old unused ceiling pancake box in a 96-year old home: I unscrewed the bracket that attached the mounting nipple to the ...