When It rains, It pours in your basement!!?
That's when you know you need to look at your basement bulkhead door! And perhaps your gutters. A customer called me after our November monsoon. Her gutters had backed up and the cascade off her roof was running into her basement. We assessed the doors and discussed the options of reshaping the door ( our friends at Bilco, offer guidance on how to do this) and cleaning up the broken cement, or replacing the door.
My customer decided that after 50 or so years, her tired old door should be replaced.
I took measurements and searched and found Bilco makes the size I needed and offers it in a powder-coat finish that matches the existing trim on the customer's house! In the mean time the customer had the gutters cleaned! Bilco, an icon in cellar bulkhead stair doors, the Kleenex or Refrigerator of the cellar door, discusses in their literature that while their door will prevent rain from getting in, a rain diverter or gutter must be installed on the roof above the door. A clogged gutter is worse than none at all at the point of failure- think Niagara Falls!
The installation is not that complex. You start by removing the old door.
I found that an angle grinder with a cut off wheel does a great job cutting the cement anchors. Wear proper ear and eye protection- there will be a shower of sparks! Once you have removed the old door, It is a good time to clean up the concrete sill which is the foundation for the door. In our case, I will come back once the ground is thawed to address a crumbling corner. That done, follow Bilco's directions. Assemble the parts as guided, being sure to check for square and plumb on sides and from the wall, as well as being sure the flashing on the siding is intact. Mark anchor holes and then- here is the part that hurts- remove the frame you have just assembled and fussed with to get just right- and drill the new anchor holes on the marks with a masonry bit. Beware the outside of the box says you need a 3/16th bit. Bought that for naught. The directions in the box say use a quarter inch bit for their anchors! Glad I had that! Then move the frame back into position, again being certain the wall side is behind your flashing and that the sides now over the cut holes and are still plumb. Tap in the nail driven pins. Then you are ready to place the doors into position. Two cotter pinned hinge pins for each side. Then install the new gas pistons on their brackets!
I am not making this up! Goodbye old creaky torsion springs, hello gas pistons, like on your hatchback or hood! Now I am jealous! My old Bilco is looking a bit tired and worn in comparison! Lastly install the Bilco name plate with the handle and the 4 rubber gromets that prevent door on frame wear. Now go over any seam with an opaque silicone or polyurethane caulk. I found a brown that matched our door nicely.
Replacing your cellar door can be done by one person, however it would be a lot easier and it is recommended to have two for the job. You could do it yourself, but if you lack the time or tools or inclination, you could hire A Home And Garden Handyman, LLC to do if for you.
Here is just before and after from another customer's Bilco Door replacement done this year in Middletown Ct. by A Home and Garden Handyman, LLC. This basement door was replaced in preparation for a siding update and a future patio to be built around it. Too, it roared like a dinosaur when opened. With a powder-coat finish and gas spring lift assistance, the new door it will match the decor to come and avoid terrifying the neighborhood children when opened.