Live in a condo or co-op in the city, and your monthly maintenance fee may be large enough to make you envy the owner of a single-family home. But that regular common charge means that you get to live in ignorant bliss about what it costs to keep a property functioning. You may never know when the gutters get cleaned, who gets hired to do the work or even how much the job costs. None of the details are your problem because the work just gets done whether you’re paying attention or not.
Check for cracked housings on plastic roof vents and broken seams on metal ones. You might be tempted to throw caulk at the problem, but that solution won’t last long. There’s really no fix other than replacing the damaged vents. Also look for pulled or missing nails at the base’s bottom edge. Replace them with rubber-washered screws. In most cases, you can remove nails under the shingles on both sides of the vent to pull it free. There will be nails across the top of the vent too. Usually you can also work those loose without removing shingles. Screw the bottom in place with rubber-washered screws. Squeeze out a bead of caulk beneath the shingles on both sides of the vent to hold the shingles down and to add a water barrier. That’s much easier than renailing the shingles.
Risk: If your house was built before 1994 and still has the original plumbing fixtures, you’re using 30 to 40 percent more water than a comparable new home. Because about 70 percent of the water flowing through the showerhead is hot, that means higher heating bills too. A basic showerhead can cost just $15 and could pay for itself in reduced water and heating costs after just one month. Calculate your savings at epa.gov/watersense/watersense-calculator.
How to DIY it: There are lots of ways to clear a drain, so start with the easiest one. If your sink has a pop-up stopper, remove that and clean it. If that doesn’t do the trick, fill the sink with 3 or 4 inches of water and use a plunger to plunge the sink (plug the overflow hole with a wet rag first). Still slow? Try snaking the drain pipe with a metal hanger or a pipe-cleaning tool (sold at hardware stores for about $2).
Workers often have strong backgrounds in some areas—say, carpentry—and know enough to do small jobs related to other trades. If your list primarily consists of projects related to one type of work, ask prospective companies if they have workers with expertise in that area. We get scads of complaints from consumers who hire jacks-of-all-trades but get workers who don’t have the knowledge or skill to complete work satisfactorily.
As I write this article, there is a man named Bob hammering large holes into the plaster ceiling in my entryway. If you were here, you'd smell what I'm smelling — the acrid odor of wet plaster, rusty pipes and the decades of black goo that has clogged them to a standstill. Bob is breaking up the ceiling to remove a few feet of 85-year-old cast-iron plumbing that's leaking tub water from the upstairs bathroom. With every strike of his hammer, I see dollar signs.
In 2009, there were national handyman service firms which handle such nationwide tasks as public relations, marketing, advertising, and signage, but sell specific territories to franchise owners. A franchise contract typically gives a franchise owner the exclusive right to take service calls within a given geographical area. The websites of these firms put possible customers in touch with local owners, which have handymen and trucks. Customers call the local numbers. Typically these firms charge around $100/hour, although fees vary by locality and time of year. In many parts of the world, there are professional handyman firms that do small home or commercial projects which claim possible advantages such as having workers who are insured and licensed. Their branch offices schedule service appointments for full-time and part-time handymen to visit and make repairs, and sometimes coordinate with sub-contractors.
If you can’t see any telltale flow marks, and since the stain is fairly small, look at the underside of the roof for ‘shiners.’ A shiner is a nail that missed the framing member, in this case when the carpenter nailed the roof sheathing to the rafters. Moisture that escapes into the cold attic from the rooms below often condenses on cold nails. Sometimes you can spot this if you climb up into your attic on a cold night. The nails will look white because they’re frosted. When the attic heats up a bit during the day, the frost melts and drips, then the nails frost up at night again and so on. The solution is to simply clip the nail with a side-cutting pliers.
Depending on where you live, national averages can seem like a steal. Rene Artale’s four-bedroom house near Newcastle, in Westchester County, N.Y., suffered some damage during a storm last winter. A tree fell in the yard, damaging her fence, arbor and retaining wall. And heavy snow caused her roof to leak. The repair bills just kept piling up. Removing the tree, $3,800. Repairing the wall, $4,000. Fixing the roof, $3,800. Fixing the picket fence, $2,800. “It’s obscene,” Ms. Artale, 47, said.
Tiny holes in shingles are sneaky because they can cause rot, a leaky roof and other damage for years before you notice the obvious signs of a leak. You might find holes left over from a satellite dish or antenna mounting brackets or just about anything. And exposed, misplaced roofing repair nails should be pulled and the holes patched. Small holes are simple to fix, but the fix isn’t to inject caulk in the hole. You’ll fix this leaky roof problem with flashing.
Here’s a quick fix for a drawer front that’s pulling off. Cut a couple of lengths of quarter-round the same height as the drawer sides. Hold them in place while you drill a couple of holes through the sides and front of the drawer box. Dab some polyurethane glue (wood glue doesn’t stick well to finished surfaces) on the pieces of quarter-round before screwing them into place. Here’s how to fix sticky wooden drawers.
eople Working Cooperatively, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that serves the Greater Cincinnati area, has teamed up with the City of Cincinnati to offer the Cincinnati Lead Education and Remediation Program (CLEAR). PWC was selected by the City of Cincinnati to provide all intake applications for homeowners interested in the CLEAR program.This new program reduces lead hazards from your home and could involve repairs such as a window replacement or covering lead surfaces.You may qualify if all of the following apply to your household:A child under six resides in your home or spends at least six hours per week in your home on a regular basis You have owned and lived in your home for more than one yearYour home was built before 1978You live in one of these city neighborhoods:Bond Hill, Westend, Over-The-Rhine, Mt. Auburn, CUF, Corryville, Madisonville, Avondale, South Cumminsville, North and South Fairmount, West, East and Lower Price Hill, Walnut Hills, Evanston Northside or CarthageTo apply for the service or see if you qualify call 513-366-4699!
While you’re at it: Don’t cheap out and use rock salt instead of water-softener salt, even though rock salt costs half as much. It contains far more impurities that will clog up the works, and you could wind up needing to spend $600 or more for a new water softener. Make sure you always follow these home care tips to save you time, money, and stress.
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Tired of listening to those cabinet doors bang shut? Peel-and-stick door and drawer bumpers are the solution. Get a pack of 20 at a home center for a few dollars. Make sure the back of the door is clean so the bumpers will stick, then place one at the top corner and another at the bottom. Plus: Keep your kitchen (and whole house!) clean with these 100 brilliant cleaning hacks.
Repairs often mean simple replacement of worn or used components intended to be periodically renewed by a home-owner, such as burnt out light bulbs, worn out batteries, or overfilled vacuum cleaner bags. Another class of home repairs relates to restoring something to a useful condition, such as sharpening tools or utensils, replacing leaky faucet washers, cleaning out plumbing traps, rain gutters. Because of the required precision, specialized tools, or hazards, some of these are best left to experts such as a plumber. One emergency repair that may be necessary in this area is overflowing toilets. Most of them have a shut-off valve on a pipe beneath or behind them so that the water supply can be turned off while repairs are made, either by removing a clog or repairing a broken mechanism.
Don’t fall for a shingle shakedown! Not all local handyman services have your best interests in mind. Instead of repairing damaged roofing or siding, they recommend a full replacement, which doesn’t always make financial sense. At Brothers Services, we believe in treating people fairly and making sure you know your options, including affordable ways to extend the life of your roofing and siding.