Easy Fixes for Pesky Household Problems

Problems like squeaky stairs, smelly rooms and oil stains on the garage floor can be quick turnoffs to buyers.  But these common household troubles are easy to fix.  Here are tips for capable home owners who want to try their own hand at a solution:

Leaky Faucets

fix1Some people can’t sleep when confronted with the sound of dripping water, and the potential for higher water bills can cause anyone to lose sleep. Most faucet leaks can easily be fixed with a rubber washer, an O-ring, or seals, depending on what type of faucet it is.  By fixing the problem yourself, you can save a good bit of money since plumbers can be expensive and will charge you a standard fee even if it takes only 10 minutes to fix the problem.

  • Shut off the water to your faucet. The water valve for sinks are usually located underneath the basin, while some valves are located on a pipeline between a sink and a toilet, or near a toilet.
  • Remove the head of your faucet to gain access to the gasket. You can use your adjustable crescent wrench to do this – and in some cases you can do this using your hands. (NOTE* The “head” of the faucet is the last piece of the faucet – where water comes out. The head is typically a metal ring, with a rubber ring on the inside of it known as the “gasket.”) After removing the head, get ahold of the gasket and inspect it for wear and tear. Additionally, inspect the newly exposed areas of the faucet head for dirt, grime, blockages and damage. Using your cleaning supplies and brush, you can clean the faucet head to allow for better sealing with your soon-to-be-acquired new gasket.
  • Take your old gasket to your local hardware store, and get it matched in size and shape with a new one. There are plenty of sizes for faucet gaskets, and helpful employees will know which one you need and get it for you in no time.
  • You can now apply the new gasket to your faucet head, making sure that the rubber ring lays flat and is not folding or buckling in any particular direction. An even washer/gasket means no more drips! Now fasten the faucet head back on using your hands to line up the threads, and taking the crescent wrench to tighten it up nice and snug. Turn the water back on to your faucet, and turn the faucet on for 30 seconds before turning the faucet off. Repeat this 2 to 3 times to ensure there are no drips and that the gasket has been applied properly. No more drips? Outstanding! You can now enjoy your sleep in peace.

Nail Pops

fix5Nail pops are a problem across the country.  The term comes from the nails that hold the drywall to the studs actually popping out through the face of the drywall.  This is from either a house settling or the wood studs drying out over time, squeezing the nail out of the wood and pushing it through the drywall.  The fix for this isn’t terribly hard, but it’s tedious because there are up to 32 nails in a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of drywall.  My suggestion is to pound the nail through the drywall to the stud.  Then, just above it, place a drywall screw to hold the drywall to the stud, and finish it off with a few coats of spackle or joint compound.  Finally, seal and paint it.  Most home-improvement stores also sell nail pop kits that can make this job easier.

Squeaky Stairs

fix4The most common problems that occur in a staircase are the treads coming loose, which causes squeaking.  Also common are the spindles or balusters coming loose.  If you can get underneath the staircase, fixing the treads is easy.  You will need to attach an L bracket from the underside of the tread to the stringer (the long piece of wood that connects the treads and runs diagonally up the wall).  If you can’t get underneath the staircase, you’ll have to make the repair from above.  Squeaky stair kits are available that allow you to make this fix even through carpet.  Otherwise, you can secure the tread to the stringer with a trim screw.

Unblock Showerhead

If you can remove the showerhead, dissolve 4-5 denture tablets in a bowl of water and put the head in to soak. If the showerhead isn’t removable, pour the denture tablet solution into a plastic bag, tie it to the fixture so the showerhead is completely immersed, and leave for a couple of hours.

Eliminate Household Odors

No one wants a home that smells like last Thursday’s fish fry. But keeping your  home smelling fresh can be tricky. Simply living in our homes causes odors to accumulate. So what can one do to keep the unpleasant odors  to a minimum?

  • Keep your home clean. Using household cleaners on a regular basis and airing out  rooms and closets will aid immensely in keeping a house  smelling fresh.
  • Air it out. Nothing freshens up a home like a little fresh air. And it will help clear out fix3any lingering odors if  there’s a slight breeze.
  • Use odor eliminators generously. Simple products such as  baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice can get rid of unpleasant odors. After cooking, place a pan of of white vinegar on the stove and let it simmer. It should zap any odors left behind from cooking. Remove strong odors such as fish, garlic and  onion by cleaning up with lemon juice. Deodorize the refrigerator by keeping a  box of baking soda in it at all times.
  • Use fabric deodorizers. Much of the time, lingering smells don’t only hang  around in the air. They will commonly get absorbed into the fabric of your home.  Spray an odor eliminator frequently over any fabrics, including your furniture,  carpets and window treatments to get rid of the odors that are hiding within.
  • Keep scented products around. Light a scented candle or use a plug-in air  freshener. You can even keep a simmering liquid in a potpourri pot to add a  pleasant scent to your home. Most scented products today don’t just cover up  odors, they help to eliminate them as well. There’s nothing wrong with keeping  your home smelling nice and fresh!

Oil Stains on Garage Floor

As you use your garage, the inevitable will happen eventually – stains and spills on your garage floor. While it may not be as important as the floors in your home, you probably don’t want unsightly stains ruining your garage floor either. You can remove most stubborn stain with a bit of elbow grease and scrubbing.  First, remove the surface oil by sprinkling some cat liter on it to soak it up.  Then clear away the cat litter and focus on the stain.  Make a paste of hot water and dry dish or laundry detergent.  Use a stiff bristle scrub brush to scrub the area with the paste.  Hose the area and let it dry.  Another method is to use a product such as Spray ‘ n Wash on the stain for 10 minutes, along with a dry detergent.  Your last option is to spray on some cleaner.  Use this sparingly, wash it down thoroughly, and keep children and pets away from it.

Once cleaned, you have options for keeping your garage floor clean. With just a little effort, your garage floors should stay neat and tidy. You can paint the floor using special paint that adheres to concrete, or you can choose to seal the concrete using a clear concrete sealant. (NOTE* It’s important to ensure adequate ventilation when you’re working with concrete sealants because they often contain dangerous chemicals. Wear skin and eye protection as well.)

fix2Lastly, for a simple and inexpensive option for preventing garage floor stains, consider a garage floor mat. These mats come in a variety of sizes, designed to line the garage floor to prevent stains. You can scrub them off with soap and water or you could even use vinyl cleaner to remove stains effectively

Using three great ways to prevent garage floor stains, your garage floors should stay clean and attractive for many years.

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