Although the methods in this site
have been reviewed for safety, it is not possible to overstate the
importance of using the safest methods you can. What follows are
reminders--some do’s and don’ts of work safety--to use along with your
How to clean &
repair clogged gutters
Clean dense debris from gutters using a putty knife or a narrow drywall
knife. Put the debris in a bucket instead of dropping it on the ground.
When a home improvement project begins with demolition work, some
do-it-yourselfers begin to salivate Finally, a chance to vent
frustrations over every leak, squeak, and repair that didn’t pan out and
to pound part of the house into oblivion.
How to fix a doorbell
Begin by testing the button to
make sure it works. Doorbell buttons are commonly the culprit. Use a
screwdriver to remove the two screws that secure the doorbell cover to the
How to fix a lamp socket
With the lamp unplugged, the
shade off, and the bulb out, you can remove the socket. Squeeze the outer
shell of the socket just above the base and pull the shell out of the base
(the shell is often marked “Press” at some point along its perimeter. Press
there and then pull)...
How to remove a broken light
Before you start to remove the
broken bulb, turn off the power to the light (or unplug the lamp, if that’s
what you’re working on). Then, with the light switch in the ON position,
place the tip of your voltage sensor in the bro ken bulb base. If the sensor
beeps or lights up, then the wires are still live and are not safe to work.
Check the main circuit panel again and trip the correct breaker to
disconnect power to the light. If the sensor does not beep or light up, the
circuit is dead and safe to work on...
How to replace a pull-chain
First, make sure that the switch
is broken, not just the chain. If you find a short bit of chain sticking out
of the fixture, pull on it to see if the light turns on and off. If so, you
can buy and attach a new length of pull chain. If there’s no chain left or
if the switch doesn’t work when you pull the remaining chain, go ahead and
replace the switch...
How to install a
Turn off the power to the furnace at the main service panel. Then, remove
the thermostat cover...
How to remove a
To remove the old switch, first shut off the power to the switch. Remove the
decorative cover- plate from the switch by unscrewing the two screws that
hold the plate to the switch box. Set the screws and the plate aside. With
the cover- plate off you will be able to see the switch and the electrical
box it is attached to...
How to install a
wireless wall switch
To install the receiver switch, you’ll need to deter mine which wire carries
current from the service panel. Bend both the wires so they are as far apart
as possible. Turn the power back on temporarily Without touching either
wire, pass your voltage sensor over both. One should make your sensor beep
and light up and the other won’t. The one that trips your sensor carries
current. Turn off the power and label that wire with a piece of tape...
How to fix a bad
Shut off the power to the switch at the main service panel. Remove the
decorative cover plate from the receptacle. Set the screw and the plate
aside. With the cover plate off you will be able to see the receptacle and
the electrical box it is attached to...
Shut the power to the switch off. Remove the decorative cover plate
from the receptacle by unscrewing the screw that holds the plate to the
electrical box. Set the screw and the plate aside.
How to inspect
There are two basic kinds of pipes in a plumbing system: supply pipes
and drain pipes. Supply pipes are always full of water under pressure
and drain pipes (which include vent pipes that only move air) are empty
when not in use. Supply pipes usually are 1/2” or 3/4” in diameter and
drain pipes are any- where from 1½” to 4” or more. The largest drain
pipes are the main drain stack (multi-level houses) and horizontal house
drains fed by branch lines.
When most of us think of a floor we envision the top layer: in effect, the
decorative covering -- hardwood, ceramic tile, laminate, or carpet. The
“real” floor is hidden underneath.
replacing sink trap components
Before removing a sink trap, place a bucket under the trap to catch
water that spills out. Loosen the slip nut at one end of the trap (a
P-trap is seen here). Use channel-type pliers if the nut won’t unscrew
Today’s homeowner is faced with
an extensive range of flooring choices. Selecting the right floor can almost
be harder than installing it.
These are the tools you’ll need for your painting toolbox. All these
tools are available at almost every home improvement center, paint store,
and hardware store.
These are the tools you’ll need
for your decorating toolbox. All these tools are available at almost every
home improvement center, paint store, and hardware store.
How to frost-proof
OUTDOOR FAUCETS. Remove hoses from all outside faucets when freezing
weather approaches. Shut off the water to the faucet at the shutoff
valve inside. Drain the pipe from the shut off to the spout by opening a
waste nut on the shutoff and the outside faucet itself.
Floor coverings wear out faster than other interior surfaces because
they get more wear and tear. Surface damage can affect more than just
appearance. Scratches in resilient flooring and cracks in grouted tile
joints allow moisture to wear away at adhesive, eventually pushing up the
floor covering or tile. Hardwood floors lose their finish and become
discolored. And loose floorboards squeak. If that problem appears to be minor
now, the question is: Clean, repair, or replace?
Painting is a job
do-it-yourselfers tackle more than any other, and the one where, for a
modest investment, they can use the same high-quality tools
professionals use: a basic roller and a good-quality brush. If you have
a lot of wall area to cover, consider using a 5-gallon paint bucket with
roller screen instead of a pan. You won’t need to keep refilling the
pan, and and bucket allows you to douse the roller (covering it with
paint quickly) and flick off the extra against the screen.
Paint comes in various sheens, ranging from flat to high- gloss enamel.
Gloss enamels dry to a shiny finish and are best for surfaces that need
to be washed often, such as bathroom or kitchen walls or woodwork in any
room. Flat paints are used for walls and ceilings.
How to fix a
Most compression valves have a threaded metal spindle with a disc-shaped
stem washer on the end. When the spindle is screwed all the way in, the
stem washer covers a hole, and water flow to the spout is stopped. Drips
from the spout happen when the seal between the stem washer and the rim
of the hole (called the “valve seat”) is imperfect. Usually, replacing
the stem washer is enough to stop the drip.
To finish new gypsum drywall or repair damaged panels on existing walls,
you need a pair of drywall knives and a larger blade for spreading and
smoothing compound over wide seams between panels. The basics will do for
most projects, although there are specialized drywall tools such as corner
blades and swiveling sanding blocks attached to long poles so that you can
sand joint com pound more easily.
Many do-it-yourselfers already
own the basic hand tools required for building and remodeling walls and
ceilings. Unless you plan a special application, such as installing ceramic
wall tiles, you won’t need any specialty tools.
Problem solving -
Cleaning hardwood floor
Immediately dean spills with a dry cloth. Avoid ribbing the spill into
the floor. Once the spill is soaked up, use a damp cloth to blot the
remaining residue on the floor. Rinse your cloth often and thoroughly
wring it out before using it again. Use a d clean cloth to dry the area
when you are done. If it is still sticky allow the area to dry and then
use a damp mop.
How to hang a picture
On each side of the frame, mark 8” down from the top. Purchase D-rings
or picture hooks rated to support the approximate weight of the picture
or mirror (package labels on the hardware give the suggested weight
Learn About Layout tools
A basic collection of rulers,
squares, and levels should serve on most home improvement projects. But
it always helps to follow the adage “Measure twice and cut once,”
particularly when it can save an extra trip to the lumber yard for more
How to fix a sliding screen
You can’t remove the screen door until you release the tension on the roller
wheels. Back off the adjustment screws, then lift the door out of the
channel that holds it captive.
You can get much of the protection of a tamperproof outlet with a
safety coverplate. Adding one takes only minutes and requires no contact
with wiring. Remove the old coverplate from the receptacle by unscrewing
the screw that holds the plate to the electrical box.
How to fix a
broken window pane
Wearing heavy leather gloves, remove the broken pieces of glass. Then,
soften the old glazing compound using a heat gun or a hair dryer. Don’t hold
the heat gun too long in one place because it can be hot enough to scorch
How to install a
new towel bar
Position the towel bar and make a mark along the outside of the mounting
trim on each side. (Try to avoid positioning the bar so the new holes
will fall directly over the old ones.) Repeat for the other side.
Installing a built-up
built-up molding is a good way to create an elaborate ceiling molding
without paying a small fortune for a custom made pieces. On this job, we
started with a backer board that supports much of what comes later. We
covered this with a soffit board and added a frieze under the soffit.
Then a cornice was nailed between the frieze and soffit, and a fascia
was nailed to the front of the soffit and backer. We finished up by
installing a bed molding along the top edge and a cove molding along the
Building codes &
Building permits are required
for any remodeling project that involves a change or addition to your
home’s structure or mechanical systems. Building permits are issued to
ensure your remodeling project meets local building codes, which
establish material standards, structural requirements, and installation
guidelines for your project. In short, they ensure that your (or your
contractor’s) work is done properly.
Carpet cleaning machines can be rented by the hour or by the day To deep
clean your carpet push the machine forward over a 3-ft. square area,
releasing the detergent and rotating the brush. At this time hot water
is often used, causing steam. When you pull back, cold water is used as
a rinse. Some machines allow you to manually adjust the water
temperature. Always be sure to rinse thoroughly Slowly go over the same
area a couple of times to work the cleaner into the carpet. Repeat this
process until the entire carpet is cleaned. Allow the carpet to dry
Ceiling - wood
In theory you can use any type of
wood plank on a ceiling, including shiplap and other types that are normally
used for exterior siding. But those materials generally are 3/4 inch thick,
which is not only unnecessary on a ceiling but also a disadvantage due to
Good lighting plays a key role in efficient design--and goes a long way
toward defining the personality of the room. With the proper fixtures in the
proper places, lighting can help you avoid working in shadows or relaxing in
dimly lit rooms.
Fixing a leaking
A skylight is a great
addition to just about any room, especially one that is starved for
natural light. But one of these units can also be the source of water
leaks that cause internal rot and ceiling stains. Typically the first
sign of trouble is a faint brown ring on the ceiling. You can be sure
that this indicates a roof leak, instead of just water condensation
inside the attic, because the dark edge is caused by traces of asphalt
from roofing shingles or
roofing cement. A leak must
If you want to add living
space to your attic and don’t have a full set of stairs going up there,
you should hire a professional to make and install a staircase for you.
But if you just want a better way into an attic that currently has only
a small access hole, then consider installing a fold-down stairway. This
job is within reach for most homeowners and can make getting up and down
much easier. The starting point is buying the staircase unit at a
lumberyard or home center.
Ceiling - Building
and using a deadman brace
Installing drywall is usually a two-person job. To have help carrying and
lifting the panels makes the work a lot easier. But help is not al ways
around when you need it. Fortunately, you can work alone with the help of
two common devices. The first is a rented drywall lift that costs about $50
a day. With this hand-powered tool you can install panels on ceilings and
walls by yourself.
Curtains can dress a room in
elegance, lighten the room’s mood, or do little more than filter incoming
light--it’s completely up to you. Choosing them may take some time, but
hanging them can be a breeze.
hole or repairing small hole in drywall
Minor blemishes to drywall surfaces are easy to repair by just filling the
spots with joint compound, letting it dry, and sanding it smooth. But larger
holes require more effort. You can use one of the kits described in the box
on the opposite page.
Installing a wall
The space between the studs
on interior it walls is the greatest untapped supply of storage space in
your house. In a typical wall, this space is 14½ inches wide by 3½ inches
deep. Just about every medicine cabinet is designed to fit inside this
space. And many fold- up ironing boards fit nicely between studs. But the
practical storage supplied by these fixtures is not the only possibility.
Plastic ceiling medallions are lightweight, easy to install, and look
exactly like traditional plaster medallions once they are painted.
Medallions are available in different sizes and patterns. Some are even
designed to allow a chandelier chain to fit through a center hole.
Glass-block walls and windows not only add a distinctive design element
to this room, they also allow filtered light in without sacrificing
privacy. These blocks aren’t difficult to install, but the framing in
the room may need to be beefed up to support the additional weight.
Check with an engineer or architect for what’s required.
There’s a lot of noise around these days, both inside and outside the
house, and most of us would like to turn down the volume a bit.
Fortunately, the truck rumbling by doesn’t sound as bad as it could
because some of the so is blocked by the insulation in the exterior
walls. Unfortunately, interior walls aren’t insulated. In fact, these
walls sometimes seem like amplifiers, especially when the kids are
watching TV in the next room.
Dealing with home
Be Prepared - Not every emergency can be prepared for, but if you live in an area prone to
hurricanes, floods, earth quakes, or tornadoes, you should have basic
emergency supplies on hand, and your family should be aware of what steps to
take when disaster strikes.
Finishing drywall seams - Pages 1 2
Finishing drywall is one of
those jobs that get easier with practice. The more comfortable you
become with the tools and materials, the faster the finishing will go
and the better results you’ll get. For the beginner, the biggest problem
is keeping the knives clean and the compound free of any debris. The
goal is to get the smoothest possible surface after the com pound is
applied. So any impurities that are dragged across the surface will
create deep grooves that need to be sanded out once the compound is thy.
How to fix a
concrete chip-out and concrete crack
Drive a form board next to the sidewalk and undercut the broken section with
a cold chisel and hammer. This will create a modest keyway that will give
the patch something extra to grip.
In wet areas, cement-board is
better backing for ceramic tile than regular or water-resist ant drywall as
it will not degrade if it should get wet. Although it’s usually ½ inch thick
and is installed much like drywall, it is heavier and harder to cut.
How to fix a
Turn off the water at the stop valves. To avoid losing small parts, put
a rag in the drain if it has no stopper. Some cartridge faucets have an
index cap covering a handle screw. Other handles, especially on
one-handle faucets, are secured with a recessed set screw that can be
loosened with a 3/32” or 7/64” hex wrench. A lever type handle with no
set screw may be removed with channel-type pliers.