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What’s Wrong With This Picture? Amateur Mistakes with Expert Solutions

We’ll show you the problem—and the fix.

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whats wrong with this picture torn base moldingFamily Handyman

All Torn Up

Tearing off trim can often take the paint and even the drywall paper along with it, making lots of extra work. All the wall patching needed to fix this wrong mess could easily have been avoided with just a little more work up front.

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remove base molding with a utility knifeFamily Handyman


When you’re removing trim, take a minute to slice through the caulk or paint between the moldings and the wall or ceiling. Run a sharp utility knife along the intersection between the wall and the trim to separate them. Then you can remove the trim without wrecking the wall.

Check out these tricks for getting tight-fitting joints on door and window casings and on base moldings.

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apple flapper whats wrong with this picturesFamily Handyman

Apple Flapper

Given how finicky toilet flappers can be, it would be awesome if an apple would do the job. As for the sock, we suspect it’s a substitute for a missing fill valve cap (see below). Or maybe it’s just decorative.

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repair toilet flapperFamily Handyman


Take your leaky old toilet flapper to the hardware store and match it up with a new one. Here’s our step-by-step guide for fixing a running toilet.

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over the top flashingFamily Handyman

Over-the-Top Flashing

This is definitely the easiest way to add flashing to a plumbing vent. But no matter how much roof cement you smear on, it won’t keep water out.

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installing roof flashingFamily Handyman


As an extra precaution, it’s good practice to seal underneath vent cap flashing when you install it. But properly installed shingles are what will keep the water out. The lower portion of the flashing should overlap the shingles. And on the upper part, the shingles should go on top of the flashing. This method sheds water without the use of sealants.

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saddle valve piping Family Handyman

Saddle Up for a Headache

Saddle valves are frequently used to route water to appliances like ice makers and furnace humidifiers. They work by piercing the copper line with a hollow needle. A rubber gasket seals between the clamps and the copper line. But saddle valves are notoriously unreliable and eventually clog or leak. And they’re virtually impossible to shut off after a few years.

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sweat tee copper pipesFamily Handyman


Instead, install a sweat or compression tee with a 1/4-in. shutoff valve. This system will give you years of trouble-free service.

As you might imagine, home inspectors encounter all kinds of improvised, dangerous and bizarre fixes. And lucky for us, they often photograph the odder “repairs” they come across. Here are some photos from a home inspection company, along with some advice on the proper fix.