Your Place: Two useful techniques for keeping a door open

Question: Years ago you explained how and where to place a piece of cardboard to keep a door from closing. It worked like a charm and has kept my master-bedroom door open, except when I closed it, for years.

Recently, however, someone removed my magic piece of cardboard, and I have not been able to figure out where to put it back to achieve the same result. I would be grateful for any help you can give me.

Answer: It doesn't seem to have been that long ago, but time flies, and it was 2009. I used my own advice on our first-floor bathroom door about a year ago.

There are two ways to do this without removing the door. One is to loosen the screws holding the bottom hinge to the door frame just enough to slide a cardboard shim underneath the hinge. (Any flexible piece of cardboard will be sufficient.)

Tighten the screws. If there is some, but not enough, improvement, loosen the screws again and fold the cardboard to increase the thickness of the shim. You can fine-tune the shim until the door stays open.

The second technique requires that you remove the door pin from the bottom hinge. Then bend the pin slightly by striking its head gently with a hammer on a hard surface such as concrete. Then tap the pin back into the hinge. The bent pin supposedly creates enough resistance to keep the door from closing by itself.

From Frank: "I read your column concerning the person who had a window in their shower.

"We have a window in our shower, and you are absolutely correct - nothing seems to protect the wood.

"However, after the second time the wood rotted, I located a composite material, available at Lowes, that looks like wood trim and can be milled to any shape. I used that to trim out the window.

"We love the window, by the way, as it gives excellent light and incredible ventilation in the shower area."

Good advice, even though I am wary about using composite material in any high-moisture area.

For many years, I was hearing from readers who saw spots develop on the composite. It appeared to be mold and mildew and proved difficult to remove through traditional methods.

Since this is a high-moisture area, I'd be careful.

Q: How does one know if a furnace should be replaced? We have a 17-year-old gas model. We had a minor air-conditioning repair done in August and were told it was in good shape and working well.

We will be selling the home in three years, and it will be a 20-year-old system by then, which might be a deal breaker for a potential buyer, especially in this market.

Is there a website for calculating when to replace a given model or one that would give me more information to help make this decision?

A: Let me commend you for having the foresight to anticipate potential problems with selling a house with an older furnace.

I'd start with and then follow the directions. Good luck.

Older furnace and boiler systems had efficiencies in the range of 56 to 70 percent, but modern conventional-heating systems can achieve efficiencies as high as 97 percent, converting nearly all the fuel to useful heat for your home.

From Ed McGee: I read your article about radiator covers with great interest.

Our house is a 209-year-old, four-square Federal with a mixture of baseboard and traditional radiators.

We solved some of the problems of placing wet things on them and dissipating heat to the ceiling by placing a piece of marble cut to the top dimensions as a shelf that rests directly on the radiator.

It forces some of the hot air more toward the room, acts as a mini heat sink, and is waterproof, so it accommodates wet hats and gloves.

Because most of our radiators are different dimensions, the marble had to be cut to size, and my wife had fun picking out colors to complement the room scheme.

Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.