In the home –as in life–it’s often the little things that matter. And it’s amazing how many small structural things can go wrong around your house. Whether it’s the front-door lock that won’t let you into your own home, or the cracked window that won’t keep the cold out, small household problems can have a big effect. For most of these, there’s no need to call for a repairman– the solution lies in tapping your ingenuity and using a few common household materials in innovative ways. Even when it seems that the roof is falling in–or the floor is opening up beneath you–there are often simple ways to solve larger problems on your own.
The bedroom door sticks every time it’s opened or closed, but the idea of repeatedly hanging and planing or sanding what you think are the trouble spots seems like more work than it’s worth.THE QUICK FIX – Tape carbon paper or another type of blued paper along the edge that is sticking. Open and close the door, and the bluing will mark the problem areas, allowing you to sand or plane exactly the points that are causing the door to stick. This works on the side, top, or bottom.
You’re starting to think you live in a haunted house because every time you open the door, your entrance is announced by a squeak coming from the hinges.THE QUICK FIX – Just lifting the hinge pin and squirting a little oil into the hinge will work for the short run, but the squeaking will inevitably return. To ensure long-lasting silence, tap the hinge pin out of the hinge and coat the pin with white lithium grease. Tap the pin back in place and test the door. The door should open and close silently, although you may have to lubricate both top and bottom hinges.
Privacy’s at stake when the bathroom door is out of kilter and binds on one corner.THE QUICK FIX – Close the door and inspect the clearance along the sides and top to see if it’s misaligned in the frame. Check the hinge mortises to see if one is deeper than the other. If so, install a thin cardboard shim or playing card under the hinge leave to adjust the alignment. If necessary, add more shims until the door swings freely.
A sliding glass door that doesn’t stay in its track is more than a minor annoyance, it’s a safety hazard.THE QUICK FIX – First, check if the door has adjustable rollers and adjust to improve the door’s action. The metal guides that contain most sliding glass doors can get bent out of shape by daily wear and tear. Badly bent or flattened guides will allow the door to slide out of the track and badly damaged tracks need to be reformed into their original shape. Use a scrap piece of lumber (or a large building block from a child’s wood block set) that is just thick enough to fit into the slot of the tracks. Secure the wood in place and use a mallet to pound the track guides back into their correct position.
Every house has one, a door that slowly drifts shut every time you try to leave it open.THE QUICK FIX – Rather than resetting the hinges or propping it open with a potted plant, remove one of the hinge pins, lay it on a hard surface, and strike it lightly with a hammer until the hinge pin has a slight bend. Tap the pin back in place. The increased friction will keep the door where you want it.
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