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10 easy, inexpensive home repairs you can do in a few hours or less.

Here's a collection of home repairs sure to tackle a problem on your fix-it list. If you've got a few minutes, you can do something about that squeak in the floor. Got an extra half hour? You can get rid of that annoying hum in the ceiling fan. Maybe you're having a party and want to fix that yellow spot on the ceiling that you've learned to ignore. Maybe you' re selling the house and you have to do all of the above!

Whatever repair you choose, you'll be rewarded with the satisfaction of fixing something with your own hands and the confidence to take on even bigger repair challenges.

Muffling a floor squeak through a carpeted floor

Brace yourself. Here's yet one more fix for that nasty squeak. (If you have a teenager who's inclined to sneak into the house at 3 a.m., you may want to postpone this fix for a few more years.) This one applies to a carpeted area where the underside of the floor is inaccessible, so the standard squeaky-floor Rx's won't work.

Most floor squeaks are caused by a nail that has worked slightly loose. When you step on that area, the subfloor rubs against the nail and causes a squeak. The trick is to refasten the subfloor, holding it tight against the floor joist, so the nail doesn't rub anymore.

1 PROBE with an 8d nail to locate the floor joist closest to the squeak.

2 PART the carpet fibers and make a small incision in the jute backing.

3 RUN in a 2-1/2 in. drywall screw to pull the subfloor tight to the joist.

Dryer roller replacement

If your dryer sounds like it has tennis shoes rattling around inside, chances are you need to replace the drum support rollers. This repair is a great confidence booster because with a few basic tools, an hour's labor and a trip to the parts store, you can get your dryer running like new.

The repair shown is for Kenmore and Whirlpool dryers, but newer Maytag, Maycor, Norge, Magic Chef, Admiral, Speed Queen and Frigidaire models also have replaceable drum support rollers. The details for replacing rollers on these brands vary, but the basic procedure is the same. Your parts supplier can probably help out with specifics for your brand.

Whether your dryer is gas or electric, be sure to unplug it before you start. This repair requires you to lift the dryer lid, which may mean moving the dryer away from the wall. If you have a gas dryer that must be moved, contact your gas company for help before proceeding. You may also have to disconnect the dryer vent.

1 LIFT the lint screen cover and remove the two screws inside. Be careful not to drop the screws down the slot. Slip a putty knife between the lid and dryer front, and press in to release the clips securing the top. Lift the lid and lean it back against the wall.

2 USE a 1/4-in. or 5/16-in. nut driver to unscrew the two hex head machine screws that hold on the dryer front. Unplug the two wires connected to the door switch and remove the dryer front. Be careful; you have to hold up the drum while you remove the front. Prop the drum up on a quart-size can or blocks of wood.

3 MAKE a sketch or take a Polaroid photo of the belt and pulleys to help in reassembly. Push against the belt tensioning pulley to release the pressure while you slip the belt off the motor.

4 LIFT out the drum and set it aside. Now you can see the drum support rollers.

5 REMOVE the bracket that holds the lower roller. Then remove the retaining clips and slip off the old rollers. Clean the shafts and put a drop of oil on each.

6 INSTALL the new rollers, place new retaining clips in the grooves on the shafts, and reinstall the lower pulley bracket. Reassemble the dryer.

It's best to disassemble the dryer before you buy parts to be sure of the problem. Then you can take the old parts with you to the appliance parts store for an exact match-up.

Here are some tips for reassembly:

* While the dryer is apart, replace the belt.

* Line up the rollers with the groove on the drum.

* After you install the front, roll the dryer drum around and make sure the rear seal is lying flat and isn't pinched.

* Some dryers have a two-piece front (kickplate at the bottom) that enables you to reattach the belt to the motor after you install the front. Otherwise, reconnect the belt first.

Silencing humming ceiling fan

My wife and I fought over the ceiling fan switch for 18 years. She liked the breeze in the summertime, and I hated listening to the fan's monotonous drone. Then I discovered anti-hum speed controls for ceiling fans, and now our marriage is humming along smoothly again.

An anti-hum control may or may hot solve the problem, but it will make a difference. Cheaper fans (under $75) have cheaper components and a type of motor construction that make them more prone to humming. The higher the quality of the fan, the more a control will help. One other comment. If you know the brand of the fan, it's best to order the factory speed control made for that fan.

CAUTION: Before starting, turn off the circuit breaker (or unscrew the fuse) at the main panel that provides electricity to the switch. Flip on the switch that controls the fan to make sure you found the correct breaker.

Conventional old-style rheostats and even new dimmer switches cannot be used for ceiling fans. The anti-hum speed control shown here will replace a conventional switch for one fan only, with no fan light. If a switch controls more than one fan or the fan has a built-in light, a different or higher-amperage speed control may be required. If it handles more than one fan, add up the amps of all the fans (read the plates on the motor housings for amp specs). Then pick a control that has an amperage rating greater than the total. Consult a licensed electrician or your electrical inspector for more advice.

1 TURN OFF the circuit breaker or unscrew the fuse that controls the fan switch, then turn the fan switch back on to make sure you turned off the correct breaker. Remove the switch cover and disconnect the old switch.

2 RECONNECT the hot (black) wires to each wire lead from the new fan control. Fasten the new fan control to the outlet box using the connectors provided, reinstall the old cover and turn the power back on.

Repair water-damaged spots in ceilings

So let's say your roof or bathtub decided to share some of its water with your ceiling. If this goes on for a while, a yellowish-brown stain will develop. (Of course, before you fix the stain, fix the leak!) It's easy to fix these stains, even on textured ceilings, if you take the right steps.

The most important step is to seal the stain with BIN or Kilz so the stain won't reappear through any topcoat you apply. If you have a plain ceiling, or ceiling texture that wasn't damaged by the leak, all you have to do next is repaint. If, however, the texture is water-damaged, follow the steps shown in Photos 1 through 5. You'll use spray cans of texture to blend the patch with the rest of the ceiling.

Two different styles of canned texture are available. One is for matching splatter-type ceilings, and the other is for acoustical sprayed ceilings. Splatter sprays are simply runny joint compound, whereas acoustical sprayscontain solids such as vermiculite or polystyrene to provide the cottage cheese-like texture. You can easily tell the two apart by examining your existing texture.

TIP: Experiment on an upside-down scrap of plywood or drywall with canned textures to get the feel of the spray pattern and how far away to hold the can, and to make sure the texture matches before you hose down your ceiling.

The spray can method we show has some limitations. If you have a fairly old ceiling, it may be discolored and the bright white patch might stand out like a sore thumb. If this is the case, you either have to paint or respray the entire ceiling (see "Spraying Textured Ceilings," p. 34).

1 SCRAPE OFF loose, damaged texture with a putty knife. If the texture is just stained but not flaking off, don't remove it.

2 FEATHER the edge by using a drywall sanding sponge to lightly sand the lip of the crater.

3 FILL the void with joint compound. After it dries, sand out any knife marks or ridges.

4 SEAL the water stain with BIN or Kilz, even if it seems that the joint compound completely covers it. Otherwise, there's a good chance that the stain will bleed through after spraying.

5 RESPRAY with canned ceiling texture if the damaged area is less than a couple of square feet.

Spraying textured ceilings

There are several reasons to respray a ceiling.

* Perhaps you're unhappy with the result after repairing the water stains, and the only alternative is to respray the whole thing.

* You'd like to give new life to a plain flat ceiling that has some hairline cracks.

* The ceiling has many problems such as missing texture, stains, holes or yellowing.

Contrary to popular belief, do-it-yourselfers are capable of spraying ceilings. For this story, we were planning to rent a sprayer until we found out that a local home center provided one free for 24-hour periods. If you have to rent one, they run about $40 a day. A bag of ceiling spray that will do two to three rooms costs $8 to $10.

Mix the ceiling spray in a 5-gal. bucket. It's possible to mix it by hand, but you'll get far better results with a 1/2-in. drill and mixing blades (Photo 1). If the sprayer is sputtering, spewing big globs or continually plugging up, the mix needs more water.

It takes just a few minutes to get used to running a ceiling sprayer. The key is to pretend you're spray painting and keep the spray head moving. Holding the nozzle in one place too long piles up the texture, leaving you with a real mess. You have to wait until the texture dries, scrape off those areas and respray. Go easy at first; you can always go back and add more.

Begin by outlining the edges of the ceiling, then fill in between them, walking backward and sweeping the spray back and forth.

Ceiling texture comes in a few different flavors. Most contain either vermiculite or polystyrene chunks for texture. You'll also need to select the grade: fine, medium (the most common) or coarse.

Clean up tools or any overspray with a wet rag.

1 COVER walls with painter's plastic, fastening it tight to the ceiling with masking tape. Seal any water stains with BIN or Kilz. Fill any holes with joint compound. Mix ceiling texture to the consistency of runny oatmeal with a 1/2-in. drill and mixer in a 5-gal. bucket.

2 OUTLINE room edges with texture and fill in the middle using sweeping, spray-painting-type, motions. It's best to spray while moving backward so you can examine the finished ceiling as you work.

Front door tuneup

If you're able to accurately gauge the wind speed outside without opening your front door, maybe it's time to adjust or replace your weatherstripping. It sounds like an awful job, but if you're lucky enough to own a modern steel or wood door, you can find replacement parts that darn near install themselves.

For this fix, we'll deal with the two most common types of jamb weatherstripping, magnetic for steel doors and compression for steel and wood doors. Steel doors usually have a compression-style strip for the hinge side and a magnetic one for the strike side (doorknob side) and top. Look at the door and note the style of weatherstripping on all three sides before going to the hardware store to pick up replacement seals. The old weatherstripping will be tacked into place with small brads from the manufacturer so the door doesn't pull it out when it opens. You'll damage the door jamb trying to remove the brads or drive them through, so leave them in after removing the old weatherstripping.

The sweeps on the door bottoms are even easier to replace. With the door removed, pry out the old sweeps with a chisel or screwdriver. If you're replacing a sweep on a wood door, apply a bead of caulk on the bottom of the door and staple on the entire replacement sweep.

Adjustable thresholds aren't as universal as weatherstripping, but they're simple to fine-tune. Adjust all four screws until the door opens and closes without too much drag and any draft is eliminated. Turning the screws clockwise moves the threshold down and counterclockwise, up. In my house, I turn the thresholds up in the winter to keep out cold outside air and move them down in the spring to make the doors easier to open.

1 CLOSE the door and tap out the hinge pins with a pin punch or thin nail.

2 TURN the knob and open the door, pulling it off the hinges.

3 "UNZIP" the old, damaged weatherstripping, pulling it through the brads that hold it in.

4 CUT OFF the brads with an old chisel or push them all the way back into the groove using a screwdriver.

5 CUT the new weatherstripping to length and reinstall and pin it with new brads positioned near the old ones.

6 PEEL OUT the old door sweep and caulk the ends of the door frame. Tap in the replacement sweep and staple the ends with a couple of 1/2-in. staples.

7 ADJUST the door sweep with a No. 3 Phillips screwdriver.

Removing glass scratches

In high school I had this friend who used to polish out his watch crystal scratches with Brasso. Fast-forward 20 years. I installed a $1,200 patio door for a customer. This guy called me up the next day complaining about a 3-in. scratch right in the middle of the glass. (Whiner!) Faced with replacing a $400 door panel, I was scrambling for alternatives when I recalled Dave and his obsession with his flawless watch face. An hour later--voila!--one happy customer, one scratch-free patio door and one very happy, sore-armed contractor.

Reattach door closer

If you have a storm door closer, you've probably had this problem. One good gust of wind is all it takes to rip out those stubby bracket screws, and they usually take a chunk of door jamb along. Here's a quick fix anyone can do.

When you're done, pick up a safety chain at the local hardware store and install it at the top of the door to keep it from happening again.

1 SPREAD the splintered piece of jamb apart just enough to squeeze wood glue behind it. Then tack it back together with 1-1/4 in. brads.

2 FILL the gouged area with a two-part wood filler or auto body repair compound like Bondo. Mix the hardener and putty according to the label directions. Press this into the gouge with a small putty knife. Leave the filler a little higher than the surrounding wood.

3 PLANE off the excess filler when it has hardened to the consistency of bar soap. Depending on the temperature, this partial hardening will take from five to 20 minutes. When the filler has completely hardened, wrap 100-grit aluminum oxide sandpaper around a small block of wood and sand it flush. Then prime and paint the patch.

4 HOLD the bracket 1/4 in. from the storm door and level with the closer. Mark all four screw locations. Drill 3/16-in. pilot holes at these marks. Then reattach the bracket with No. 12 x 3-in. pan head screws that will reach the stud behind the frame.

Unclog and adjust Sink stopper

For such a seemingly simple device, it's amazing how many things can go wrong with your bathroom sink stopper. It'll refuse to stay up, refuse to stay down, or the knob that's supposed to control the stopper won't do a thing. The mechanism responsible for all these problems looks like a collection of spare parts, but once you see how it all works, you can easily repair and adjust it. You'll also know how to remove the stopper to clean off hair and soap scum when the drain plugs up.

1 UNSCREW the pivot rod retaining nut and withdraw the pivot rod from the drain to disengage the stopper. Some stoppers can be removed without disconnecting the rod. Try lifting the stopper straight out or giving it a little twist and then lifting. If it won't come out, you'll have to remove the pivot rod first.

2 LIFT OUT the stopper and clean off the debris. Replace the stopper and reinstall the pivot rod, aligning the rod with the hole in the stopper if necessary. Tighten the retaining nut enough so the stopper will stay in the open position until it's lowered.

3 ADJUST the opening height of the stopper by loosening the set screw on the lift rod strap and sliding the strap up or down on the control rod. Tighten the set screw and check to see if the stopper opens fully and closes tight. Readjust if necessary.

Sash cord replacement

Once you replace those broken sash cords and no longer have to prop open your window with a stick, you'll wonder why you didn't get around to it sooner. Replacing sash cords is a bit of a challenge, but if you're comfortable using hand tools and follow our step-by-step photos, you can have the old double-hung working like new in a couple of hours.

You'll need a roll of No. 7 or No. 8 cotton sash cord and a small container of 1-1/4 in. nails, both of which are available at hardware stores and home centers.

1 PRY off the interior stops with a stiff putty knife. If the moldings are stuck on with paint, slice the painted joint loose with a sharp utility knife before you pry them off. Pull out the lower sash and remove the sash cords from the grooves, being careful to lower the weights gently if they're still attached. If your window has metal weatherstrip, you may have to remove a few small nails to get it and the sash out.

2 PULL out the parting stop if you want to replace a cord in the upper sash. It's nearly impossible to remove this piece without breaking it, but a full-service lumberyard should have replacement stops. A pliers works best to grab the stop and wiggle it loose. Removing one side is usually enough to allow removal of the top sash.

3 REMOVE the access panel screws and pry out the panel. Feed the new sash cord through the top pulley and fish it out of the cavity with a bent coat hanger. Tie the cord to the old sash weight and pull it taut, allowing the weight to rest on the bottom of the cavity. Then cut the cord and tie a knot in it about 3 in. below the pulley.

4 REASSEMBLE the window, starting with the top sash. Place the knotted cords into the grooves on the edge of the sash and tack them in. Raise and lower the sash to check the cord length. Replace the access panel. Then cut and install the new parting stop, securing it with a couple of 1-1/4 in. brads. Install the lower cords and sash in the same manner and tack in the interior stops. Move the stops a little if the sash is too loose or binding.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Home Service Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Gorton, Jeff; Larson, Travis
Publication:The Family Handyman
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 1998
Previous Article:How to Protect Your Floors.
Next Article:A do-it-yourself Flat Roof.

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