I recently visited a house where some of the doors had levers instead of knobs to open them. The owner didn’t know much about them, except that he liked them, and so do I. Can you give me some information on door levers? – L. Todd
Lever door openers are considered an upgrade over knobs not just for their clean lines and good looks, but because they help people open their doors.
They are especially valuable for older people, children and those who have arthritis or other grip-weakening conditions in the fingers or hands.
It is possible to buy lever handles at moderate cost for virtually any type of door, including entry doors, passage doors and closet doors.
You can find a selection of lever locks and latches at most home centers.
Most include instructions, and they are not difficult to install, although an entry-door lever can be somewhat tricky.
The first step in an installation, of course, is to remove the knob assembly. The knob is usually held in place by a couple of long screws in one side of the decorative flanges that fit against the door. Remove these screws and the knobs should pull away from the door.
The latch itself is held by two more screws, penetrating the door edge. Note which way the flat face of the latch is turned – the new latch should turn the same way so the door stays shut when closed.
When you have removed the screws in the latch plate, which should be mortised in the jamb, the door is ready for the new lever latch. In some cases, the mortise that holds the latch plate needs to be enlarged slightly to accommodate the new latch. Use a sharp wood chisel to enlarge the mortise.
Entry-door levers that include a lock set, usually with a deadbolt, are usually the most expensive, and can cost from less than a hundred dollars to several hundred.
Levers for interior doors, without lock sets, cost less. For example, Home Depot recently offered a Kwikset entry-door package, including lock set, for $40. Kwikset closet-door levers were priced as low as $20.
We’re aware of the energy savings that can be had with automatic setback thermostats (if we actually follow a setback program, of course), but we are retired and have an erratic schedule that makes it difficult to follow a pre-set program. We are constantly fiddling with the thermostat to override pre-set temperature settings, and would like to have a thermostat that better suits our erratic schedule. Is there such a thing? – NIra
A: I think you’d be happier with an up-to-date manual thermostat with simple up-and-down settings.
The newer manual thermostats look much like the programmable ones, but have only two buttons you need to use.
An example is Honeywell’s Digital Non-Programmable Model RTH111B,a manual thermostat that costs about $25 at some home centers.
This thermostat works with both heating and cooling equipment and has a display window with large numbers that show the existing temperature in the room. One of the two buttons raises the temperature to where you want it, the other lowers the temperature. Your desired temperature changes also appear in the window in large numbers, then disappear.
It is possible to get excellent setback savings with a manual thermostat, and there is little loss in comfort, especially in houses that are well insulated and weather-proofed.
For example, if you set back the heater temperature 8-10 degrees before leaving the house for several hours, or before going to bed, you simply have to push the “up” button when you are ready for more warmth.
Many houses will become comfortably warm within 10-15 minutes. The same system works with air conditioning, except you raise the temperature when you are absent.
Manual thermostats are usually easy to install. Installation instructions are included with the Honeywell model I mentioned, and you can call a toll-free number for help if you need it.
Honeywell claims on the package that the thermostat can be installed in 15 minutes, but I think it will take most do-it-yourselfers a little longer than that.Email questions and comments to Gene Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org.