How to install closet lighting

How to install closet lighting

James Dulley

Q: My bedroom closet has a ceiling light with a pull string. I fumble around trying to find the string and end up just leaving the light on. How can I attach a wall switch to it?

A: You can install a wall switch using approved electric cable with a ground. Nail a metal switch box to the wall and run the cable from the box along the wall to the light. Follow codes for spacing of wall cable straps.

A simpler option is installing a new light bulb with a built-in motion sensor. I use one in my closet. It switches off in five minutes after no motion is detected. They are available in hardware and home center stores.

Q: I am remodeling my bathroom and adding a large super-efficient R-8 casement window. I am having trouble removing the old tile adhesive from the walls so I can paint them. What do you recommend?

A: Old tile adhesive can get rock-hard. You will probably need a hammer and a scraper to get some of it off.

Don’t worry about gouging the wall surface. You’ll have to skim coat the wall anyway before painting.

Another method is to remove the old adhesive-covered drywall and replace it with new drywall. It’s not a lot more work and you will have access to the wall cavity. Fill gaps with insulation where it has settled.

Q: I stretch plastic over my sliding patio screen door in the winter. The rollers are worn out and the door doesn’t fit the track well. Can I repair it myself so it makes a better seal?

A: Putting clear plastic film over your screen door helps reduce air leaks from the wind. It also creates a dead air space which reduces heat loss.

The rollers are easy to replace yourself. You can purchase new rollers for about $5 a pair at your hardware store.

Remove the screen door from the track. Unscrew each roller adjustment screw so the roller assembly hangs down. Replace the rollers and readjust the screws.

Q: There is a very small crack immediately under my window frame on the outside. Each year I caulk it, but the caulk doesn’t hold well. What is the best way to caulk this narrow crack?

A: It is difficult get the caulk inside a narrow crack. One method is to enlarge the width of the crack a little with a chisel or knife. One-eighth of an inch width is usually enough for most caulks.

Use a highly-flexible caulk, like silicone, to withstand thermal stresses.

Paintable silicone caulks are available. Gun in the caulk so it fills the crack completely. Also, try to build up a triangular bead between the wall and the window frame over the crack.

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