Next-level fixes, and when to call for help.
The door is sticking.
Check the top corner, where the free-swinging edge (not the hinged edge) meets the jamb. Examine the jamb to look for scrapes that indicate the sticking point. Look for other obvious problems such as a loose hinge. Put down a tarp to catch wood shavings, paint scrapings, sawdust. Scrape away paint from the doorjamb, then sand the scraped area smooth, or tighten a hinge. Lubricate the door-hinge pins while you’re at it.
Also: It swings open by itself.
If some genius over-planed or sawed the door, leaving a monstrous gap between it and the jamb, screw a small, thin wood block to the upper corner of the jamb to fill up the gap. Adjust the thickness of this shim by sawing it on a table saw, hand planing, or sanding. Another fix: Add friction by removing a hinge pin and putting a slight bend in it with a hammer. Reinstall the pin.
The leg keeps loosening on my dining-room table.
Turn the table upside down on a carpeted or padded surface and inspect the leg. Tighten the corner bracket that secures the leg to the two aprons (the horizontal members attached to the leg). No bracket? You can add one at each corner. A set of four steel brackets costs less than R100 through woodworking supply catalogues.
The handrail to the upstairs, too.
A handrail loosens when the brackets fastening it to the drywall studs pull out. Find the offending bracket, and remove one screw at a time and drive in a longer screw, so that the screw is grabbing more timber. You may also add more brackets. If someone attached rail brackets using hollow wall fasteners, that won’t do. Replace those with brackets secured to studs, not merely to drywall.
Fence post. Same deal.
Two common post looseners: teenage mower syndrome and frost action. The first is on you. For the second, tighten the post by digging around it and pouring in a product such as Sika Pro Select Fence Post Mix, an expanding polyurethane material. Mix the contents in the bag, slit it, and pour it into the opening.
Why aren’t the clothes dry?
Probably a lack of airflow caused by a clogged dryer duct. If the clothes come out moist and warm, this is your most likely culprit. Clean the dryer duct with a Linteater cleaning kit and a cordless drill.
The floor squeaks.
Pieces of wood flooring can squeak against each other or the subfloor below, or multiple layers of subfloor can squeak against each other or against the joist. With floors covered in carpet or vinyl, the problem is normally with the subfloor or the subfloor rubbing against the joist. If possible, make use of snap-off screws that can be driven from the finished side of a wood, carpeted, or vinyl floor, but if you have access to the floor from below, such as through the basement or cellar, you can use an aluminium brace. We like Squeak-relief.
The light won’t turn on, and I just changed the bulb.
Shut off the power and use needle-nose pliers to pull up the tab at the bottom of the bulb socket. The tab gets mashed down from people over-tightening the bulb. If that doesn’t work, call an electrician.
There’s mildew inside the windows and on the tiles.
The most common cause is an unvented bathroom unleashing moisture vapour into the house. To better vent a bathroom, first you’ll need to assess the existing fan and duct set-up. Or you need to think about how to install a fan in the space. That’s no small job, as it involves finding a power source, cutting in the fan box, and installing the fan, the duct, and the duct outlet on the sidewall or the roof. A proper bath fan is worth the trouble. It makes for a less soggy bathroom and a less humid indoor environment overall.
The sink keeps clogging.
Let’s assume you’re not living in an old house with steel plumbing that has an inside diameter the size of a pencil. With modern plumbing, normally you’ve got residual build-up in the pipe (hair or a thick bio film – a slimy black layer of microbes and residue of whatever went down the drain). You can etch this stuff out of the pipe with a professional-duty drain cleaner such as Powafix, which works best closest to the sink drain and trap. More profound build-up needs to be reamed out of the pipe with a mechanical drain cleaner that you rent. Note: Reaming out the pipe from the kitchen sink to the street or your septic tank is no pleasant job.
What’s with this drawer?
And if the drain system’s vent is clogged by a bird’s nest or a dead rodent (just sayin’), then the vent system needs to be reamed out as well. Brace yourself: There’s nothing quite like finding a halfrotted creature enmeshed on the end of the draincleaning tool.
The air con doesn’t cool.
A truly filthy indoor air filter may block enough air to cut cooling performance. Replacing it with a clean, new, appropriately sized filter is simple. It’s also possible that an outdoor compressor/condenser may need to be cleaned. It may be filthy, or covered in leaves and vines. Frankly, you should call an air-con repair person. More likely reasons: The system’s refrigerant charge is low, the compressor is shot, or the compressor fan motor is done. Make the call. Is it not closing? Most kitchen drawers ride on drawer slides, so first make sure there isn’t a loose screw preventing the drawer from closing all the way. But you already did that. Is it sticking? Severely overloaded drawers will sag
and may even break apart. Declutter the drawer and repair its loose parts with glue blocks.
Old-fashioned wood drawers will simply wear away, or the drawer runner will. There comes a time when old-school drawers need to be refurbished. In other cases, the paint on their sides may deteriorate, causing sticking.
The carpet stain … reappeared?
Whatever caused the stain in the first place has saturated the carpet padding, and it’s providing a reservoir that releases more of the material (spaghetti sauce, say) every time you try to clean the spot. The solution: First, blot up spilled material as quickly as possible. High-quality paper towel is ideal. Apply as much weight or force as possible to the stain, and even after you’ve blotted, weigh down a piece of paper towel over the spot, and leave it in place for a few hours. As soon as possible after the spill happens, use an extractor-style carpet cleaner on the area. This may take a few passes.
The sliding cupboard door jumps its track.
Look up: Worn hanger rollers can cause balky operation; people will jerk the door off its track. Look down: A broken floor guide will cause the door to swing when it’s pushed or pulled.
You need to do a mouse audit, eliminating food sources (bags of dog food and bird seed) and sealing every crack and crevice – crannies even! – where they can enter. Likely entries are through or around the garage door, attics, groundlevel gaps, and crawl spaces, especially on the top edge of the foundation. While you’re busy auditing, set some traps perpendicular to the walls along which the mice run.
There’s no hot water.
Some checklists for a basic hot-water geyser:
Gas ( rare, but some people have them)
__Set temperature is too low.
__Pilot is out.
__Thermocouple has failed.
__Gas control valve
__Poor inner circulation
caused by broken
__Set temperature is
__Thermostat has failed.
The mildew in the shower keeps coming back.
A bleach-based scrub-down will buy you some time, but if the mildew forms in the grout where the bath (or shower pan) meets the wall, your only solution is to cut out the grout, disinfect the area, and seal it with a mildew-resistant grout.
Dead patches of lawn.
The top three lawn killers are: dog waste, grubs, fungi. Remove dog waste as soon as possible and soak the area with water to dilute nitrates and urea in the waste. Grubs are easy to find. Use a shovel to pick up the browned area. If you find grubs writhing around, apply a grub killer. Fungi: Find photographic samples of fungi on turf websites and proceed as directed. Get in touch with an expert at your local garden centre or nursery – explain your problem, and they are likely to offer up some helpful advice.
Does the toilet flush seem weaker to you?
Insufficient water level in the tank brought about by a stuck float or maladjusted fill mechanism will cause a weak flush. A flapper valve that shuts too soon or even a flush handle that is out of position can also cause anaemic flush performance. Take the cover off the tank, flush, and observe. If everything inside the tank looks worn out, just replace the guts of the tank with a product such as Fluidmaster’s Complete All-in-one Repair kit. Depending on toilet age and other factors, for less than an hour’s work, it’s like having a new toilet.
The plug point doesn’t work.
Check for a circuit breaker that tripped from an overloaded circuit. Reduce the load and try again. No go? Call an electrician to fix the problem.