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Easy Fixes for Pesky Home Ailments

Dani Caruso
By Dani Caruso

Whether you occupy a historic building or reside in a brand new structure, your home is bound to challenge you with pesky maintenance and cosmetic issues. Much of these homeowner ailments are quick and easy to repair, as long as you do a little research first. Tackling these problems now will pay off when entertaining or relocating, so it’s best to address sooner than later. Here are some common household issues and their solutions: 

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Glaring holes in the wall from picture frames.

The fix: Overfill holes with a lightweight patching compound. Once dry, smooth with a damp sponge. Unlike with sandpaper, there’s no dust and no damage to the wall paint.

Cabinet doors won’t stay shut.

The fix: The old spring or roller latch is worn out or covered with paint. Order a heavy-duty magnet catch and install it in just a couple of minutes. Works great for medicine chests, too.

Bathtub caulk is moldy.

The fix: You’ve got to remove every bit of old grout so that the new material forms a seal against the tub and tile. If moisture gets back there, mold will form again. Use a 5-in-1 tool and a plastic razor to cut it out, and caulk remover to loosen any remaining bits. Then apply new acrylic latex caulk containing mildewcides.

The laminate kitchen countertop is peeling.

The fix: Brush contact cement onto the laminate and the substrate, and let it dry. Then press the laminate in place and clamp it tight using blue painter’s tape.

Cracks in the driveway widen each year.

The fix: That’s because water gets inside the fissures and freezes, pressing against the surface. Come spring, dig out any infiltrating crabgrass and dirt, and fix the cracks for good. For asphalt, use a cold-pour filler, such as QPR Asphalt Crack Filler; for concrete, use Quikrete Concrete Crack Seal, then seal the whole driveway.

The lawn is turning brown.

Fix: This is often due to insufficient watering. An easy way to tell if your lawn is thirsty, before it’s too late, is to look at it through polarized sunglass lenses. If it appears blue-gray instead of green when it’s in direct sunlight, turn on the sprinklers.

There’s bubbles in the wallpaper.

The fix: If it’s less than 1 inch across and you don’t feel any debris inside, such as a paint chip, you can forgo the standard procedure of slicing an X into the paper and brushing adhesive behind it. Instead, use a syringe to poke a pinhole that releases the air and allows you to inject adhesive right where it’s needed. To get a clean cut in vinyl paper, make a small slit with a utility knife before inserting the syringe.

Image: Dummies

The basement collects water after rainstorms.

The fix: Odds are, your gutters are emptying too close to the foundation. Extra long kickouts at the bottom of down-spouts are tripping hazards. So route the water underground using Flo-Well’s easy-to-install dry well (about $130; ndspro.com for dealers and installation instructions).

The toilet is wobbly.

The fix: If tightening the bolts on the base doesn’t stop it, buy some plastic shims  and slide them under the toilet to stabilize it.

The bathroom mirror fogs up from taking showers.

The fix: Treat it with Rain-X antifog wipes, which are made to improve windshield visibility.

Grout is stained around the sink.

The fix: You can remove stains by bleaching with a grout pen, but that can leave the grout color uneven. Hide that problem by darkening all the grout with a grout colorant in a soft-gray or beige hue.

(These ideas were originally featured on thisoldhouse.com. Author // Josh Garskof.)

Dani Caruso
By Dani Caruso
Dani is House One’s assistant editor. As a Norwalk, CT native, Dani graduated from UConn with a BA in Digital Media and Design. This millennial longs for the days of All That, Tamagotchis, and Dunkaroos. When she’s not working, she’s hanging outdoors, playing with her dogs, or watching makeup tutorials on YouTube.

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