50 Things You Should Know About Your Home by Age 50
If 50 is on the horizon for you, read up!
How to Flush the Toilet When the Power’s Out: Flush With a Bucket
Locate Your Main Water Shutoff Valve
In colder climates, the main water shutoff is typically in the basement. There is also a “curb stop” shutoff that requires a special tool to operate.
Find Your Property Lines
Deal with Drainage
Adjust Your Water Heater
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
How to Stop Under-the-Door Air Leaks
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.
How to Fix a Loose Doorknob
How to Sharpen Lawnmower Blades
Plus: Tune Up a Lawn Mower
Loosen Stuck Pipes with Heat
Touch-up Without Cleanup
Don’t Choose a Problem Tree
Fix Loose Joints With Epoxy Resin
Brush a layer of epoxy onto both parts to be joined. Assemble and clamp the parts if necessary. Then wait the specified time for the epoxy to set up. Read the instructions to determine how long the epoxy should cure before you use the furniture. Even five-minute epoxy may take an hour or more to reach full strength. If you’re repairing a valuable antique, you may want to avoid epoxy repairs because the result is irreversible.
Fix a loose screw
This is an old carpenter’s trick. If you have a screw hole that’s too big, just wrap a bit of steel wool around the screw before you drive it in. It provides just enough friction to hold the screw firmly in place and takes less futzing than trying to fill a hole and re-drill.
Replace loose, popped nails
One way to make sure your gutter doesn’t fall off the house is to install fascia hanger brackets. Installation is simple: Just hook the bracket under the front lip of the gutter, and then screw the other side of the bracket to the fascia. Leave the old spikes in place—a spike head looks better than a hole in the gutter.
If your shingles overhang your fascia by a few inches or you have steel roofing, buy the brackets with the screws built in (the type shown here). They cost more, but the head of the screw remains a couple of inches away from the fascia, making them a lot easier to install.
Fix a Wobbly Ceiling Fan
How to Change Locks
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.
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.
Garbage Disposal Repair
If you want to take on a larger task, you can even replace your windows!
How to Replace a Toilet
Foam a Loose Showerhead
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
Fix a 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.
How to Remove Carpet Yourself
How to Fix a Clogged Drain
Clogged drains usually happen at the most inopportune times. Keep a plunger and drain snake on hand to clear up most drain problems in less than an hour.
Cut the Power to Your A/C or Waste Energy and Damage Your Compressor
Flip off the breaker if the A/C compressor has a dedicated circuit, or rotate the disconnect block upside down into the ‘off’ position. The disconnect block is located in the small panel outside near the compressor. Reenergize the unit 24 hours before startup. That will give the oil time to reach operating temperature. Plus: Check out these common air conditioning mistakes you might be making.
Protect the Air Conditioner
Swap Out the Gas in Small Engines or Replace the Carburetor in the Spring
Clean Attic Venting or Invite Ice Dams
Poor attic ventilation can cause ice dams in the winter months, increase cooling costs, create a home for mold and reduce the life of shingles during the dog days of summer.
Over time, the vents located in your soffits and on some gable-end wall vents get clogged with dust and debris and lose their effectiveness. Clean them with a leaf blower or compressed air. You could use a pressure washer, but stick to a couple quick passes because you don’t want to saturate the attic insulation with water. Clean the vents every few years, unless you live near a lot of trees with floating seeds, which can clog vents in one season. For much more on preventing ice dams, check out this guide.