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Give it a Go or Hire a Pro?
Dated: March 14 2018
How Do I Replace a Doorknob?
Give It a Go. Chip says, use a long screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the doorknob in place — they'll be tucked below the knob on one side of the door. Then, pull apart the entire doorknob assembly. Unscrew the strike plate on the side of the door, and slide out the latch (the metal bar that goes into the strike plate when the door is locked). Your new doorknob should come in a kit with all these pieces. Slide in the new latch first, then align both knobs on either side of the door and screw them in. If your new knob doesn't match up with the old screw holes, patch them, then pre-drill new holes for the new knob and screw it in. Finish by screwing in the new strike plate.
Can I Add a Retaining Stone Wall to My Yard on My Own?
Hire a Pro. Chip says, you may think you can just start stacking stones, but if your wall doesn't have a properly installed footing (a.k.a. foundation), it can topple over. In fact, any wall that's more than two feet high, which is as low as most walls get, requires engineering to be supported properly. That's why I suggest calling in a landscape contractor. He or she will make sure the wall — whether it's made from concrete, stones or natural boulders — has a solid foundation, then they will build it up to just the height you want.
How Can I Fix Peeling Paint on Exterior Windowsills?
Give It a Go. Chip says, peeling is usually caused by exposure to moisture and sun — hard to avoid, I know. To fix it, first get rid of all the old paint. Wearing a dust mask or respirator, remove the peeling stuff with a stiff wire brush and/or a paint scraper. Fill any cracks with a paintable exterior sealant; let dry. Sand the wood, then coat it with an exterior primer. Wait a day to ensure it's dry, then paint it with an exterior semigloss, which holds to the elements better than a flat finish. Check the forecast before you do this task. If it's rainy or colder than about 50 degrees F, the paint won't bond to the wood or primer and will peel as badly as it did before.
There's a Skunk in My Backyard. Help!
Give It a Go. Chip says, before you call animal control try these tips: First secure garbage can lids to get rid of food sources that could entice the stinker to take up residence. Also, close off any dark, sheltered areas where the skunk could hide, like the space under a deck. Next, install outdoor lights on motion sensors. The brighter the bulb, the better since skunks are nocturnal and tend to stay away from well-lit spots. As a last resort, you could spray your yard with a repellent that contains dog or fox urine (But just a warning — it could smell.) If that doesn't send him packing, set a humane trap. That'll allow you to capture the skunk and relocate it far away from your home.
What Should I Do About Termite Damage?
Hire a Pro. Chip says, it can be hard to tell the difference between termite damage and wood decay caused by water. It's best to hire an exterminator certified to deal with termite infestations. He or she will do an inspection and, if the damage is from termites, treat the problem with baits or termiticide, usually over a few visits. Although treatment can run in the thousands of dollars, it pays to get an exterminator in ASAP to limit the damage those little buggers can do.
What Should I Do About Scuffed Hardwood Floors?
Give It a Go. Chip says, the only way to really fix a scuff is to refinish that portion of the floor. A pro job can cost hundreds of dollars, so if the area is small, do it yourself. First, clean the spot with a degreaser. Then, sand it with a sanding sponge or an orbital sander, going from coarse grit to a fine grit. Wipe the wood with a damp cloth, then restain it by applying the stain in light coats with a foam brush then wiping with a rag. Let it dry, then use a paintbrush to apply a protective finish such as polyurethane, extending it a bit beyond the repairs so it blends in. If it looks too glossy after it dries, buff away some of the sheen with superfine steel wool.
What's the Best Way to Get Rid of a Wasp's Nest?
Hire a Pro. Chip says, wasps can be aggressive if they feel threatened, so play it safe and hire an exterminator. To prep for the exterminator's arrival, clear the surrounding area the best you can without disturbing the nest. After the treatment is done — it can take a few hours — wait several days before hanging out in the area so any remaining insects have a chance to buzz off.
What Should I Do About Worn Kitchen Tile Grout?
Give It a Go. Chip says, first scrape away at least 1/8-inch of the old grout with a grout removal tool— you can get a handheld one for about $5 or a bit that attaches to the end of an oscillating power tool starting at about $15 at the hardware store. Clean the area with a disinfectant to kill any mold or mildew, then start regrouting: If your tiles are spaced 1/8 inch apart or less, use non-sanded grout. Otherwise, use sanded grout. Spread some on a rubber grouting trowel, then hold the trowel at a 45-degree angle and spread it over the wall, forcing it into the gaps between the tiles. Scrape away any excess, then let the grout set for 10 minutes and wipe the tile with a damp rag. After the grout dries, spray it with a sealant.
How Do I Add Radiant Heating to My Bathroom Floor?
Hire a Pro. Chip says, you'll have to rip up your existing floor, so it's best to hire an experienced tile installer. I suggest an electric radiant heat mat — which is like an electric blanket under your floor — as opposed to a hydronic system, which uses pipes filled with hot water and requires a major remodel, costing thousands of dollars. To install the heat mat, the tile pro will remove your floor down to the subfloor, then lay down a backer board, a compressed stone or fiber cement covering that shields the subfloor from moisture. Next, he or she will add the heat mat and encapsulate it in mortar. Once it's dry, they will install the new flooring. In a standard-size bathroom, the job should take three or four days.
My Automatic Garage Door Won't Open. Help!
Hire a Pro. Chip says, the culprit is likely the photo eyes, little sensors that detect if a person or object is in the door's path. The eyes sit on either side of the door near the ground, and if they're dirty or misaligned, the door won't work. You can try wiping them with a cloth, but if that doesn't fix the problem, you'll probably have to call in a garage repair technician. If the eyes are broken or knocked out of place, he or she can easily put in new ones. If they're not the problem, they can troubleshoot the door's motor, track and cables.
My Basement Air Feels Damp. How Can I Fix It?
Hire a Pro. Chip says, you can use a dehumidifier to make the area more comfortable, but to really treat the problem, you need to get rid of the source of the moisture. Check the basement's ceiling, comers and walls. If the problem is localized, like a wet spot on the ceiling, have a plumber look for leaky pipes. If you see condensation or wet spots on the walls, call a foundation repair company. They'll check that settling cracks aren't letting ground water seep in, and they'll make sure the earth around your house slopes away from the foundation so water isn't trickling into your masonry.
Can I Install a Programmable Thermostat in My Home?
Give It a Go. Chip says, this is an easy swap. Just turn off the power to your furnace, pop off the old thermostat cover and unscrew the base from the wall. You'll see between two and six wires; note which part of the thermostat each was attached to. Then, screw the new thermostat's base into the wall, reconnecting the wires according to your notes. Snap on the cover, turn on the furnace's power and set your on/off times and temperatures.
Can I Patch Thin Cracks on My Concrete Driveway?
Give It a Go. Chip says, apply painter's tape around the edges of each crack. Fill thin fissures (1/8 inch to 1/4 inch wide) with a concrete patch sealer. Caulk tube versions are easiest to use — just squeeze the sealer into the crack, then smooth it with a plastic spatula or putty knife, and peel off the tape. For cracks wider than 1/4 inch, first push a concrete backer rod (a foam rope) into the crack to fill most of the void, then apply the sealer on top. Smooth it, and peel off the tape. The sealer takes about 24 hours to harden.
Can I De-Creak a Squeaky Step?
Give It a Go. Chip says, if you can access the underside of your stair case, that is. Insert a few screws into the loose board and apply superglue to the wood to keep it from rubbing against the other boards. If you can't see the bottom of the step, call a handyman who can tighten it by attaching an additional piece of wood to the loose board (figure around $300 for labor).
Should I Repaint a Crack in the Bathroom Ceiling?
Hire a Pro. Chip says, your ceiling will need to be stripped, reskimmed with drywall and then repainted (figure three days of work). Choose a high sheen paint — flat ones dry out faster in humid rooms. Most important, have your exhaust fan checked out or have one installed. Poor ventilation accelerates paint peeling.
Rudy Pierre is a versatile professional that combines his unique blend of charisma, dandyism, and professionalism into his work as both a Photographer and Realtor. This self- made entrepreneur has gar....
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