40 Things You Should Know About a Home By Age 40
Home repair is learned over time
Flush With a Bucket
Even if a power outage stops your well pump or the city water supply, you can still flush the toilet. Dump a couple gallons into the bowl or fill the toilet tank. This works just as well as the usual flush, but won’t refill the bowl. Still clogged? Here’s our guide for how to unclog a toilet.
Deal with Drainage
Test the Sump Pump or Risk a Flood
To avoid a similar disaster, be sure your pump has a vertical float switch. Also, check your pump at least a couple times a year by dumping water into the basin to make sure everything is working properly.
Clean Dryer Vents or Waste Energy and Risk a Fire
You’ll have to remove the vent from the back of the dryer to clean it. Suck debris from the ducts with a wet/dry vac, or ream them out with a cleaning kit that includes a brush on a long flexible rod that attaches to a power drill. The kits are available at home centers. If your ducts need replacing, get smooth metal ducts, which will stay cleaner longer than the rough corrugated surface of flexible ducts. Avoid plastic ducting altogether; it can be a fire hazard. Plus: Slash Heating Bills
Stop Under-the-Door Air Leaks
If you can feel the breeze and see daylight under your entry door, it’s costing you big-time. It also means you need to adjust your door threshold or install a new door sweep. Door sweeps start at $10. The hardest part about replacing them is usually taking off the door.
Start by adjusting the threshold. Newer versions have screws that raise and lower them. Turn all of the threshold screws until the door opens and closes without much drag and any draft is eliminated. If that doesn’t work, or your threshold doesn’t have adjustment screws, replace the door sweep.
Close the door and pop out the hinge pins with a pin punch to remove the door. Set the door on a work surface and remove the old door sweep. Caulk the ends of the door, then install the replacement sweep. Some sweeps are tapped into place and stapled along the door bottom; others are screwed to the side along the door bottom. If a drafty sliding patio door is your problem, here’s how to fix it.
Repair a Loose Doorknob
Plus: Tune Up a Lawn Mower
Touch-up Without Cleanup
Suck Out Drain Clogs
Sizing a Ceiling Fan
Placement of a ceiling fan for adequate air circulation is 7 ft. above the floor with the blades 8 to 10 in. from the ceiling. And to move more air at low speed, a fan with five blades is best.
Regarding energy savings, research has proven that ceiling fans can save energy during the cooling season by creating a gentle breeze. You get your savings then by raising your thermostat by a minimum of 2 degrees. This decreases air conditioning energy used by 10 to 15 percent, or 5 to 8 percent per degree. By reversing your fan (so it runs clockwise) during winter, you pull heat from the ceiling and push it down to the floor for more even heat.
Tennis Ball Parking Guide
Here are 11 Easy Garage Space-Saving Ideas.
Seal Outlets and Ceiling Boxes
The tiny gaps around outlets on exterior walls and ceiling boxes let cold air in (and warm air out). Sealing these areas takes just half a day and will help cut down on drafts (and your heating bill!).
Fix Leaks and Drips
Paint Like a Pro
How to Fix a Running Toilet
There is a four-step strategy for fixing a running toilet. The fix will not only give your toilet a stronger flush, it can lower your water bill.
How to Fix Squeaky Floors
Silence those squeaky floors. This quick fix for silencing floor squeaks will take you just a day. Bonus: You don’t need any special tools.
How to Fix a Crack in Drywall
It doesn’t matter if your son’s basketball got away from him or you nicked the wall moving a piece of furniture—at some point you’ll be faced with a crack in the drywall. You’ll need a taping knife and utility knife, along with some drywall tape, pre-mixed joint compound and setting type compound to fix the crack so it doesn’t come back.
How to Fix Cracked Grout
Even the best tile jobs will succumb to cracking grout at some point. If the grout between your bathroom floor tiles is crumbling, there is a quick fix that will save you from tearing up the floor and starting over.
How to Fix an Unbalanced Washing Machine
You threw a heavy load of towels in the washer and now it’s unbalanced. With a level, pliers and a pry bar, you can have the washer balanced again in five minutes.
How to Fix Common Refrigerator Problems
Maybe your refrigerator isn’t cooling as well as it should, or perhaps the ice maker suddenly stops working. Many refrigerator issues are simple DIY fixes.
How to Fix a Water Heater Pilot Light
There could be a few reasons the pilot light on your water heater goes out. A common cause is a bad thermocouple, which shuts off the gas to the pilot light. This simple fix will cost you $20, if you do it yourself.
If it’s your furnace that needs attention, you can perform routine maintenance, and handle simple repairs yourself. Plus: Learn how to choose furnace filters and how to replace furnace filters yourself.
If you want to take on a larger task, you can even replace your windows!
Replace a Toilet
Solution for a Small Leak
Some roof leaks are tough to locate. Sometimes the water shows up at a ceiling spot distant from the leak. If your ceiling has a plastic vapor barrier between the drywall and the attic insulation, push the insulation aside and look for flow stains on the plastic. Often water runs to openings in the vapor barrier, such as at ceiling light fixtures.
If you can’t see any telltale flow marks, and since the stain is fairly small, look at the underside of the roof for ‘shiners.’ A shiner is a nail that missed the framing member, in this case when the carpenter nailed the roof sheathing to the rafters. Moisture that escapes into the cold attic from the rooms below often condenses on cold nails. Sometimes you can spot this if you climb up into your attic on a cold night. The nails will look white because they’re frosted. When the attic heats up a bit during the day, the frost melts and drips, then the nails frost up at night again and so on. The solution is to simply clip the nail with a side-cutting pliers.
Lubricate a Lock with a Pencil
Broken Light Fixture
Fix a Shutoff Valve
It is instinctual for homeowners to contact an HVAC tech when they notice irregularities in their cooling or heating system. These irregularities could be a direct result of a dirty or clogged air filter. We encourage homeowners to check their filters and replace if necessary. It’s also beneficial for homeowners with pets, carpet, or for homes near fields or construction zones to have multiple filters for convenient replacement.
Pro Tip: Mark your calendars! 1-in. filters should be changed every month, 2-in. filters should be changed every 2 months and 4 to 5-in. filters should be changed every 6 to 12 months.
Clothes Dryer Repair Guide
Most dryer problems can be fixed in an hour with a few basic tools and a continuity tester or multimeter, and you can do the work yourself with these simple instructions. Get the clothes dryer repair guide.
Restore Free Flow to a Faucet
To remove the sand and other deposits, soak the aerator in vinegar, then scrub it with a toothbrush. This usually solves the problem. If you have to disassemble the aerator to clean it, lay out the parts in the order you removed them so you can reassemble them correctly. Still having issues? Do a showerhead deep clean.
How to Adjust Oven Temperatures
If your oven cooking times are off, recalibrate your oven temperature to match an accurate oven thermometer. The procedure is in your oven’s instruction manual. Learn how to adjust oven temperatures.
Electric Stove Repair
You can solve most electric range burner problems yourself and avoid the expensive service call. It’s quick and easy to replace a burner or bad burner socket. Read the electric stove repair tips.