10 Ways to Fix It Yourself and Save Some Dough
Our friends at All You will teach you some tricks on how you can do your own at-home fixes.
With just a few simple tips and the proper products, you can solve common household problems without calling in backup.
- Hanging Pictures
- Keep Rugs and Runners in Place
- Smooth Wood Furniture and Floors
- Fixing Holes in Walls
- Clearing the Drain
- Renew Wobbly Chairs
- Unclog the Toilet
- Repair Ripped Vinyl
- Tighten Cabinet Doors
- Smooth Sliding Doors
Problem: "I can't seem to master the art of hanging pictures."
Fix it: Placing artwork on walls can be a tough job. To curb the hassle, heed these rules of thumb: artwork tends to look best when its center is 60 inches from the floor, or when the bottom of the frame is 5 to 6 inches above a couch or mantel. Not sure where to put the nail? The Hang and Level from Under the Roof Decorating ($20, utrdecorating.com) can help. Hang your frame on the device, then hold them both against the wall, shifting to find the ideal spot. Remove the frame but keep the tool in place, and press the button on the device to make an indentation in the wall (that's where the nail goes). To keep your frame from going askew, apply paint-safe double-sided mounting tape to the corners before hanging.
Problem: "My rugs and runners won't stay in place, but those nonslip rubber pads aren't cheap."
Fix it: Carpets that aren't pinned in position by large furniture are bound to shift when people walk on them, but pricey rug pads aren't the only way to secure them. If you don't care what the bottom of your rug looks like (and why should you?), apply lines of latex caulk to it every 4 to 6 inches. Let dry, then flip for instant traction. Or affix strips of double-sided tape, like Duck brand Hold-It for rugs ($12 for a 25-foot roll; amazon.com) along the bottom of the rug an inch in from the edge. If you change your mind and move the rug later, the tape is easily removable, and it won't leave sticky residue on either the floor or rug.
Problem: "My wood furniture and floors are scratched, but sanding them out would take so much work."
Fix it: No matter how carefully you guard your oak table or pine floors, scratches happen—and sanding them not only requires tons of time and patience but could result in an uneven surface. A simpler solution? Spread a wet towel over the scratch and place a hot iron on top, moving in a circular motion for three to five minutes. The steam will cause the wood to swell and permanently fill in the imperfection. Another solution is to color it in. Wood Repair touch-up markers ($5 for a pack of 3; guardsman.com) can easily conceal worn edges and surfaces, or use wood filler sticks ($5 for a pack of 5; guardsman.com) for grooves that have penetrated deeper than the finish. Choose the shade that most closely matches the hue of your wood.
Problem: "'My walls are riddled with holes, cracks, and other imperfections."
Fix it: Even the most immaculate wall can start looking pockmarked because of botched picture-hanging projects and weather changes, which can make surfaces expand, contract, and crack. To fix blemishes smaller than ¼-inch wide on white walls, try white toothpaste. Squirt in enough to fill the hole, scrape off the excess with a putty knife (or playing card in a pinch). If the imperfection still shows, sand flat and paint. For larger cracks, stop by a hardware store for some spackling compound and repeat the steps above. The Dap wall-repair patch kit ($8; walmart.com) contains everything you need, from start to finish, including spackling compound, putty knife, and sandpaper.
Problem: "I don't want to keep dumping chemicals down my drain every time it gets clogged, but I'd rather not have to pay for a plumber."
Fix it: Chemical cleaners such as Drano can be bad for your drain. Some might only partially clear the block. Others go overboard and corrode your pipes, requiring further repairs. The good news? Most clogs get lodged in the P-trap—the curved pipe below your sink—which is typically easy to access yourself. Placing a bucket below to catch any overflow, unscrew the two threaded connections. Clear any debris inside, then screw back in place. If you're reluctant to rummage beneath your sink, get Drain-Fx ($20; drain-fx.com), which acts like a power washer for your pipes. Attach the hose to your faucet, put the other end down the drain, then turn on the water to blast a pressurized stream and dislodge the obstruction. The eco-friendly tool is reusable, making it budget-friendly, to boot.
Problem:"I love my old dining room set, but the chairs creak and wobble when I sit on them."
Fix it: Some seats get rickety the more they're used, because body weight loosens joints or screws keeping parts in place. To silence squeaks and stabilize the frame, first try tightening all screws, even if they don't look loose. If the chair has interlocking joints, disassemble the joints and fill the crevices with a polyurethane adhesive to bind the parts together. A bottle of Wonderlok 'Em Instant loose-chair repair glue ($11; acehardware.com) can help you fix six to eight chairs. It also works on dressers, tables, and stairs.
Problem: "My plunger never works on a clogged toilet."
Fix it: Many of today's toilets lack strong flushing power. Plus, the toilet's P-trap—a curved drain similar to the one below your sink—can keep larger objects, like toothbrushes or Junior's G.I. Joe, from going through. Before you toss the plunger aside, check that your technique is up to par. Make sure your plunger is completely submerged (or pour extra water into the bowl until it is). Plunge vigorously; one or two gentle pumps probably won't cut it. And when the plunger fails, there is a Plan B: a toilet auger, available at hardware and home-improvement stores. Also known as a plumber's snake, the tool goes where plungers can't. Insert the auger's flexible end into your toilet drain, then crank the handle to swivel it downward. Its spring-loaded end can retrieve objects and break up blockages.
Problem: "When vinyl rips, it seems like the only choices are to fix it with duct tape (which looks awful) or toss it (which seems wasteful). Is there another way?"
Fix it: Yes. Certain glues, like Loctite vinyl, fabric, and plastic flexible adhesive ($3 for 1 oz.; homedepot.com), are able to maintain their elasticity once dry. That makes them ideal for fixing ripped patio furniture, tents, and punctured beach balls. Just add a thin line of glue to both edges and press them together. Or, for added strength, glue a patch on the underside, where it won't be seen, wiping off any excess that squeezes out the top of the crack.
Problem: "One of my kitchen cabinet doors is always swinging open."
Fix it: After years of getting slammed shut, a cabinet door might not stay closed because it shifted or sagged, bringing the latch out of alignment with the plate on the cabinet. To remedy, loosen the screws on the hinge enough to adjust the door up or down as needed. Then retighten the screws. Some hinges allow you to adjust the door up, down, and side to side by turning the screws. A worn or bent latch, or one with a magnet that has lost its power, can be replaced with several options including a magnetic catch ($5, rockler.com).
Problem: "My sliding door isn't sliding very smoothly."
Fix it: Odds are there is junk jamming the track and wheels—but because the wheels are recessed and the track is narrow, the debris can be hard to see. The solution is to clean it by running a paintbrush or vacuum along the track. If that doesn't help, consider adjusting the spring-loaded wheels up or down, which can be done by turning the screws above the wheels clockwise (to raise) or counterclockwise (to lower). Last but not least, spray the track with WD-40 ($6 for 11 oz.; lowes.com), which not only can dissolve grease and loosen dirt but also act as a lubricant to allow the door to move with less effort.
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