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Park City Home: 10 Easy Fixes

Common household problems (almost) anyone can tackle

Bob Payne
We can fix this!

The joy of home ownership is sometimes dependent on the closeness of your relationship to a local handyman, plumber, electrician, or carpenter, particularly one who works on weekends. There’s even more joy, however, in knowing that you can fix a problem yourself. Here are ten of the most common household snafus which, based on your skill level, you can tackle yourself.

Red wine on the carpet
Uh-oh. Red wine down. Respond immediately to the stain, blotting, not rubbing, with a clean white rag. Then blot again, as many times as necessary, with a home remedy such as club soda or a mix of a dishwashing liquid, white vinegar, and water. If this doesn’t work, and you don’t have a commercial product such as Wine Away or Chateau Spill at hand, it’s time to call a professional.
skill level: BEGINNER

Cracked floor tile
If the crack is the result of an underlying problem, such as a crack in the concrete substrate the tile sits on, repairing it can be a job for a professional. But minor hairline cracks are relatively easy to fix. Simply apply a narrow bead of epoxy filler along the crack, scrape away the excess with a knife, and, when the epoxy is dry, cover it with a touch of paint that matches the tile color. The keys are to attack the problem early, before moisture gets behind the tile, and to work fast, as epoxy dries quickly.
skill level: INTERMEDIATE



Minor scratches on wood furniture
Use a slightly dampened cloth to wipe down the scratch with a mild solution of water and dishwashing liquid. Let the area dry for a few minutes while you boil water for tea – black, not green or herbal. Pour the boiling water over the tea bag and let it steep for a few minutes, longer for darker wood, shorter for lighter. Dip a cotton swab into the tea and dab it onto the scratch, being careful not to splash any on the surrounding area. Relax. Drink the tea.
skill level: BEGINNER

Permanent marker on walls
The gentlest approach is to apply either white toothpaste or a paste of baking soda and water to the mark and rub, first with a damp cloth, then a dry one. If that doesn’t work, try a commercial stain remover such as Mr. Clean Eraser or Magic Green. Other, more powerful, cleaning agents include rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, and even WD-40. But use them cautiously, as they may discolor paint. As a last resort, paint over the mark, perhaps considering, as you work, whether artistic expression should be encouraged in a child’s earliest years.
skill level: BEGINNER to INTERMEDIATE, depending on whether you need to paint



Clogged drain
Unclogging a drain can require specialized tools, such as a power auger, and a plumber’s knowledge of how to use them. But the first step, and one any homeowner can take, is to use a plunger, which every household ought to have stored away somewhere. Partially fill the sink, tub, or toilet with water. Use a wet rag to block any overflow openings and, if you are working on a double sink, the other drain. Forcefully work the plunger up and down before pulling it away. Often, that’s all that’s necessary.
skill level: BEGINNER

Tilting picture frames
Sometimes it seems as if gremlins must be sneaking in during the night and setting picture frames askew. A quick fix is to roll up small dabs of mounting putty and affix them to the back of the frame’s corners. Or similarly, use self-adhesive-backed rubber wall bumpers, and let the gremlins look for work elsewhere.
skill level: BEGINNER

Bathroom mold and mildew
Spray the affected area with a commercial disinfectant such as Clorox Antifungal Cleaner. Scrub vigorously, especially any grout, then spray with an equal mix of bleach and water. Wear gloves and open the windows or use a ventilation fan. For a natural alternative, use either a paste of baking soda and water or a half-and-half mix of hydrogen peroxide and water. To discourage mold and mildew from returning, spray the area with distilled vinegar, full strength, which is especially effective at killing spores.
If you suspect black mold, which can be toxic, turn the entire cleanup over to a professional. Black mold typically starts in the corner of a wall and expands outward, has an intense smell, and can be grey and green. When in doubt, call in a pro.
skill level: BEGINNER, unless black mold is suspected

Sticking drawers
A wooden drawer that sticks is the kind of minor nuisance you might let go on for years. But there’s no need to live with it when the fix takes only a few minutes. Just rub paraffin (candle wax or silicone lubricant work well, too) on any surfaces of the drawer that come in contact with each other. Another solution is to apply self-adhesive nylon tape to those same surfaces.
skill level: BEGINNER

Running toilet
Several common problems can cause a toilet to run. For most toilets, all are relatively easy to attend to, but they require enough explanation that it’s best to look for help online or in a home-repair book. The problems include: a float that is set too high, a fill tube that needs to be shortened, a flush handle or flapper chain that needs adjustment, and a leaking flapper that needs to be replaced. Whether you DIY it or use a professional, the repair will save you significantly on your water bill.
skill level: INTERMEDIATE to ADVANCED

Sticking door
If a sticking door is caused by humidity or a settling house, it may have to be removed and planed to resolve the problem. But before calling a carpenter, try giving some attention to the door hinges. If the hinge screws have begun to unscrew themselves, as commonly happens, just tighten them again. Or if they are pulling straight out, replace them with longer screws. To keep the job from becoming more complicated than it needs to be, use a screwdriver, as attempting to back the screws out with an electric drill can sometimes strip the screw heads.
skill level: INTERMEDIATE


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