Saturday, 24 April 2010

It pays to listen.

Sometimes Fate comes along and whispers in your ear.   If you don't listen, she goes away and, occasionally, comes back and belts you round the head with a rubber hammer until you pay attention.  That's what she's done to us today.  In our case, it was to do with the back door.

Our "back door" is a full height sliding window.  To my eyes, it's inside out - the sliding window runs along the outside moving from left to right, whilst the fixed window on the right is on the inside.  In Oz, the sliding window would run on the inside; on the outside, you'd have a sliding fly-wire screen door.  (I have to confess, I have fantasised about replacing what we have with a Australian-style one, complete with screen door.  Oh, how I'd love a fly-wire screen door to keep the bugs out.)

It has two locks.  For the last year (ish), I've struggled closing the top lock.  It was stiff, so I sprayed it with WD40.  Strangely, the lock moved fine when it was away from the door jamb.  After a couple of months, I think (the timeline is a bit hazy now), I worked out that the door needed to be slammed hard shut for that lock to work.  At least once, earlier this week, I gave up fighting with the top lock and just locked the lower one.

Yesterday, we had a mid afternoon appointment so the builders had to lock up.   Strangely, they left the top-lock's key in the lock, whereas the other one was hung up on its hook.  This morning, I discovered why.  They couldn't actually get the key disengaged from the lock.  It was dark when we got back yesterday, so at 7am this morning I decided to water the vegetable garden.  Only, I couldn't unlock the back door.  Nor could I get the keys out. An hour or so later, DH succeeded.  When we went out later, he locked up with a little bit of a struggle.

Obviously, at that stage, we weren't paying sufficient attention to Fate so she decided to step it up a gear.  I noticed that the top of the door wasn't as closed as the bottom.  Thus was born my first theory - that the door is hung inside out and the sliding door track is deteriorating in the weather.  We covered the track in WD40 and hoped it'd be enough to keep the door working until we could get the builders to take a look at it.  Wrong.

When the neighbour's BBQ smoke started drifting in this evening, we tried to close the door.  And failed.  Multiple times.  Sometimes, it was as if a stop had been placed in the door maybe half an inch before the jamb.  At other times, the door closed to within a millimetre or so of it's correct position - it looked closed  but the lower lock wouldn't engage (we didn't bother to try the top lock).  Overall, it was getting worse each time we tried shutting the door.  We began to get a little panicky.  We'd slam the door and it'd hit this invisible brake each time.

I watched DH as he absent mindedly bent down and tucked the outside rubber seal back against the glass.  And that's when it hit me.  The problem was caused by the inside rubber seal(!) at the point where the two windows are always crossed.  I took a good look at it and it wasn't just sticking out of it's housing, it was dangling.  D'oh!  The seal was getting caught between the two windows and preventing the door moving further forward.   (At this point, Fate put down her hammer.)

The challenge was to get the seal back between the window frame and the glass.  15 minutes of poking it with a ruler later, DH decided the only thing to do was to remove it.  Problem.  The seal was sticking out the other side of the door but, if he opened the door, it'd slip back behind the glass and be unreachable again.  He climbed over the 6ft tall garden gate to get to it.  It took another 10 minutes of poking and prodding before the seal was out and the door moving freely.

Right now,  I'm sure Fate is polishing her hammer.  The door is locked but the top lock still can't engage properly.  We aren't sure what she's still trying to tell us.  Do we need to rebuild the sill?  Does the window need to be re-sealed professionally, rehung and rebalanced?  Please don't tell us we need to replace the whole damn unit!

We'll throw ourselves on the mercy of the builders on Monday and hope they can work out what's wrong and how to fix it.  I'm all out of inspiration.

- Pam

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