How To Solve The 5 Most Common Household Repairs

There are approximately 100 common household repairs, this article covers what are generally considered the five most common. On an average any single repair in this list can be done is less than 2 hours.

The five most common household repairs are the following:

1. Sticking doors

2. Clogged Drains

3. Drafty or sticking windows

4. Faucets malfunctioning

5. Crack or hole in wall

I am a retired contractor who worked in the construction field for near to twenty-five years and have found over that period of time many little tricks that make household repairs fairly easy for the average homeowner to do themselves - often times less expensive than having to call the local handyman or a contractor to come out and do these things for you. Those listed above are among the most common.

I will now take you through the most common repairs on each item by their number, please note that they are not in specific order, just the five most common.

1. Sticking doors:

There are a number of causes for doors sticking, the most common is that the house is constantly moving, you will note that depending on the time of year, hot and dry or cold and wet, the door will or will not stick. For this cause: the thing to do is fairly simple stand outside the doorway closing the door toward you, watch around the top, bottom and latch edges of the door and mark where they seem to bind against the door frame lightly with a pencil.

Once that is done, remove the pins on the hinges and take the door outside or into the garage and using one of the following methods adjust the door where you have marked it. You will probably have to place the door back in the frame a few times until you get the fit right. Clamp the door to a heavy table that is lower than the width of the table. Then either sand with a power sander, belt or orbital/palm, removing as much as you feel needed at the point of binding. For doors that need more than a minimal sanding you will have to use a hand plane and shave the edge of the door.

When replacing the door, tape a dime against the frame of the door with cellophane tape and the door should close, touching the dime. This will give you the perfect clearance between the edge of the door and the frame at the latch side of the door, for the top use a nickel. These are the old-timer tricks of setting a door.

Another cause of doors sticking or binding is a loose hinge, if this is the case, pull the hinge pins and remove the door. Then remove the screws in the hinge and the hinge from the doorframe or door whichever side is loose. If you have available golf tees, lightly tap one into the hole where the screw was stripped until it will not go any further cut off the excess with a utility knife and sand to level with door frame, pilot drill and replace the hinge driving the screw into the new wood of the tee, it will expand to keep its position in the hole. If you do not have a golf tee, then squirt a little Elmer's white glue into the hole and fill it with wooden match sticks or round wooden toothpicks. Allow the glue to dry and then cut and sand the excess sticking out of the hole, do not pilot drill just drive screw into repaired hole as you replace hinge.

Another cause, if the binding is more like a springing action the problem more than likely is at the hinge itself, with your thumb run your finger up the hinge to where it meets the edge of the mortise to find which hinge(s) are set too deep, remove and shim with a piece of cardboard until flush with door frame and test if door now fits proper, you may have to sand or take a slight plane cut on the latch side to compensate for the shim.

Last, if the door is binding on the bottom, maybe you have just recently gotten new carpeting or laid a new floor over the existing floor, close door and lay a standard #3 lead pencil on the floor or carpet point against the door and drag a line across the base of the door. Remove door and cut along line with a circular saw and sand smooth.

Naturally, after trimming and before resetting the door, prime and repaint the edges of the door.

2. Clogged Drains:

Most clogged drains in the kitchen are due to a build up of grease and or grinding from the garbage disposal. What most homeowners do not realize is that the standard household garbage disposal is not strong enough for more than light cleaning from plates, sauces and gravy. Orange or lemon peels, leafy greens and potato or carrot peelings do not grind up fine in home type units as they do in commercial units. All this can build up in the trap of your drain. The "trap" is the U shaped or gooseneck portion of the pipes under your sink. The most common cause in the bathroom is HAIR.

For hair clogs, first remove the built-in sink drain plug and more often the hair has been trapped around the lower end of the plug, remove the hair and test by closing plug and filling an inch or two of water then opening plug to see how fast water drains. Nine out of ten times that is all that is needed.

For tougher clogs in both kitchen and bathroom, place a pan to catch excess water under the trap and loosed the nuts at either end where it meets straight pipe, remove nuts and gently remove trap and turn upside down over catch pan. If not too much debris comes out of trap take outside and with the pressure type nozzle, flush with water from your garden hose, that will dislodge and heavy debris build-up. Once clear replace trap under sink. Test as recommended in above paragraph.

3. Drafty or sticking windows:

Drafts in and around windows is an easy temporary fix, many times it is the original construction or replacement construction that has left the drafts, not saying faulty work but the expansion and contraction of the house due to weather conditions just eventually cause drafty windows. The most cases of drafty windows are old wood sash, double hung windows. Those are the type where the bottom is lifted and held in place by a counter weight and made of wood. First on the outside of the building, check the glazing compound around the glass, in most cases it has dried and cracked allowing for drafts. Remove old glazing and re-glaze with a good glazing compound according to the instructions on the container. Then lay a bead of good "30-year" caulking compound around the edge of the window frame where it meets the wall, prime and paint. Go inside and using a clear caulk, run a bead of caulking around the edge of the window frame where it meets the wall. For slider, metal and vinyl covered frames, run a bead of caulking all around where window unit meet the casing. This will significantly reduce the drafts around the windows, however you may have to repeat this process every two to three years depending on what part of the country you're located and the weather conditions.

For sticking windows, on double sash wooden windows most times it is a paint build-up. Using a utility knife or single-edge razor blade, cut through the paint at the edge of the window where it meets the casing frame, then place a block of wood against the window frame and tap firmly with a hammer all around the window. Usually this will shock the window free from where it is binding. Another cause of this is the runners, where the windows slide up or down the wood area where they slide should NEVER be painted as the paint causes a drag and stickiness, if it has been painted remove as much of the paint as possible and then coat with paraffin. A common wax candle will do the trick, using pressure run the end of the candle up and down in this runner area and the wax (paraffin) will allow window to glide with ease.

Slider windows, usually it is a build up of debris that causes a drag on the track of the window, vacuum regularly in the track grooves and apply a light coat of 10-weight oil, like 3 in 1 oil.

4. Faucets:

Dripping or leaking faucets usually is cause by wear on the rubber washer inside the spigot valve. Turn the valves on the water lines, located under the sink unit, OFF. Open the valve and let remaining water drain. With a combination (crescent) wrench, disassemble the handle portion of the valve, attached to the bottom of the valve by one screw is the rubber washer. Once a groove is worn into the washer or it dries out and cracks you will develop a drip or leak. Remove old washer and replace with proper size new washer using the same screw, reassemble the valve and then turn under-sink valves back ON and test for leaks. Ninety Percent of the time that is all there is to it.

If you are getting an intermittent or weak stream of water from the faucet, first check to see that valves under sink are open all the way. If they are, turn water off at spigot and with a pair of pliers or by hand remove the threaded assembly at the end of the faucet and clean the irritator (screen) replace in threaded assembly and test for water flow.

5. Crack or hole in wall:

Small holes as from nails used to hang pictures are the easiest, just a little spackling paste forced into the hole with a putty knife or even your thumb. Let dry, in many cases it will shrink and then apply a second coat to evenness of the wall. Lightly sand and it is ready to prime and paint.

Cracks are a never-ending maintenance, minor hairline cracks around the corners of door and/or window frames occur frequently this is due to the fact that those are stress points and with the expansion and contraction of the house they will form and re-form. Same as larger holes in walls are common where the handle of the door continually bangs against the wall or the door or the wall is bumped while moving furniture.

Wooden walls such as real wood paneling, use a good wood putty and fill the holes, nicks, bumps or splits, sand even and apply light coating of matching stain. Most walls, however are either plaster or sheet-rock (dri-wall) in both cases you can use a pre-mixed all purpose joint compound (aka: Mud). This can be bought in any Home Improvement or Hardware store in one gallon and five gallon containers.

Depending on the size of the crack or hole in wall do the following. Measure the size of the hole, as in where the door handle cause hole or damage, and you can buy a plate of approx 1/16th inch thick aluminum with a fiberglass mesh on one side, from 1 ½ inch square up to 4 inches square. Place the metal side against the wall at the sight of the damage, press the fiberglass mesh against the wall (there is a slight adhesive coating) and apply one thin smooth coat of mud and let dry, sand smooth and apply another coat ensuring that no fiberglass is visible. When totally dry sand very lightly until smooth and blended to the existing wall.

Smaller holes and cracks, cracks should be opened slightly in an inverted "V" pattern with a utility knife approximately ¼ inch wide. Fill smaller holes and/or opened crack with mud and allow 24 hours to dry. Remember compounds shrink, after dry apply a fiberglass mesh tape over hole or crack and apply second coat of mud. Allow to dry lightly sand and apply third and last coat of mud. After all is dry sand to smooth and blended with existing wall.

Now ready for primer and a new paint job.

Except for the long drying times of all-purpose joint compound, any one of these repairs alone per unit should not take more than two hours, most cases less, to complete. Remember always work safe, use safety glasses, gloves and good tools that are clean, and keep your work area clean. Avoid all hazards.

© High Speed Ventures 2011