The Underrated First Step in Home Repairs

When nearly imperceptible measurements play such a large role in choosing the correct part, accuracy needs to be your first priority.

October 9th, 2019
3 minute read

Finding replacement hardware or building a new addition involves a lot of moving parts. Purchasing materials, knowing the stages of removal and installation, among many other steps, go into a home repair. None of these steps will be achievable without knowing the size and dimensions needed for the part you’re adding or repairing. Keeping this in mind is vital to getting the job done quickly and smoothly.

I can’t count on one hand the number of people who purchased the replacement part from us because it looked exactly like their old part, only to find out that the smallest difference in size kept it from working. Generally, it wouldn’t be a big deal to return the part and purchase a new one in the correct size, unless there is a house sale at risk because of the closing date coming up. The same problem can affect a contractor who promised to have a job done on a certain timeline. The best way to eliminate this issue is to know what and how to measure before purchasing parts for any repair or home addition. 

 

Why is Accuracy Important?


It’s not uncommon for someone to call our company with what I like to call “about” measurements. These are measurements taken by eye or with a ruler that can only show measurements down to ⅛” or 1/16”. In some cases, basic measurements are enough. When it comes to replacement hardware and home repairs, accurate measurements are non-negotiable since hardware can be identical aside from measurements as small as 1/32”. 

When such small measurements are playing such a large role in choosing the correct part, it’s important to supply as many detailed measurements as possible. If you’re not sure which measurements matter, or if some matter more than others, contact a handyman or the company you plan to purchase the parts from. In most cases, they’ll know if the width, depth, thickness, length (or all of the above) is most important and be able to walk you through the measuring process.


Examples: Balance attachments, door rollers, tilt latches, and weatherstripping.

  • Balance attachment

  • Tilt Latch

  • Roller

  • Weatherstripping

 

Choosing the Right Measuring Tool


Many people don’t realize that measuring with one instrument may not be as accurate as another. For example, a ruler you might find in a school is going to provide less specific measurements than a measuring tape or caliper. Even if you are using a measuring tape, some only measure down to 1/16”, while others that you’ll normally find on a handyman’s tool belt can measure down to 1/64”. Not all projects will require such precise measurements but it’s good to have a measuring tool that can provide the amount of detail that you’ll need for any repair. 

• Measuring tape (Large and displays detailed measurements)

• Calipers (Manual or digital)

 

How to Measure With Precision: Reading a tape measure or calipers


Here is the part that many people get nervous thinking about. It can be a lot of pressure having to choose between two seemingly identical parts when the only difference in size can be visually imperceptible. Over time, you’ll realize that having the correct tool and a steady hand will make the process far easier. In a situation where you know that you won’t be able to get an accurate enough measurement, digital calipers can be your saving grace. You’ll need to be careful about making sure the jaws are positioned correctly around the part to provide the correct dimensions.

If you haven’t invested in digital calipers yet,  having a large tape measure will make the small notches easier to read. Some measuring tapes also have some fractions written out to provide some perspective. 

Whatever you decide to use, it’s important to have the item you’re measuring on a flat, steady surface so that you are free to measure any awkward angles. A pair of clamps to keep the item still might also be a valuable tool. This may involve uninstalling the hardware if part of it is obscured.  Once you have full access to the areas that you’re measuring and the correct tool, a steady hand will prevent winding up with an “about” measurement.

 

Step 2: Search for Your Replacement Part!


Once you have accurate measurements, the next step will be matching them to the correct part to get your repair underway. If you’re having trouble, you can always send a picture of the part and your dimensions to the SWISCO experts for review.

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