Outlet Receptacle Defective

Problem: Outlet won’t work, sparks, does not receive prongs on plug, or does not grip plugs.

Background: Most homeowners should not have any problem replacing a common-wall electrical receptacle (sometimes called a “duplex” receptacle) if safety precautions are taken and the new receptacle is the same as the one replaced. The receptacle may also be the 3-hole type in stalled where heavy appliances and tools are used, a protected outlet with a spring-loaded cover that springs back over the openings, or it may be a receptacle-switch combination. Older receptacles with 2 slots can be updated to 3-prong types if grounding can be provided; if not, call an electrician for advice.

What to do: The procedure of re placing a receptacle is similar to that of replacing a light switch. Make certain the power is off, then remove the cover plate. Pull the old receptacle out and note the position of the wires. Unscrew the terminals so the wires can be removed, then install in the same way on the new receptacle. Hook the wire loops so they are clockwise under the terminals on the new receptacle. Reinstall the receptacle in the electrical box, turn on the power and test to see if it is working.

Special advice: Newer polarized outlets have one wide slot and one narrow slot to accept the wide and narrow slots of polarized plugs. The National Electrical Code requires home wiring to be identifiable by color code. Neutral wires are white; live wires are colored, usually black.
Polarized outlets and plugs continue this identification, assuring that the live wire is connected to the incoming side of the switch in an appliance. The wide slot is connected to the neutral (white) wire in the sys tem. In polarized lamp and appliance leads and extension cords, the neutral (white) wire may be ribbed for identification. Non-polarized, 2- wire plugs can be used with a polarized outlet, though the polarization continuity will not be assured.

Helpful hint: Note that all grounding (3-wire) plugs are polarized since the position of the prongs is determined by the third prong. To double-check a new receptacle, you can buy an inexpensive circuit tester. It will indicate if ground, neutral, or hot wires are properly connected, and whether the hot and ground wires are reversed, or whether the hot and neutral wires are reversed. They are usually avail able where electrical parts are sold.

Organize Kid’s Closets

Between the toys, the blankets, the shoes and the clothes, kid’s closets can get really cluttered. I have a few ideas to help you optimize that space and get rid of the clutter!

1. If you feel like you can never find an outfit for your child during the morning rush, hang a canvas stacking shoe bag in your child’s closet. Match outfits right down to the socks while you’re folding laundry, and then store an outfit in each of the compartments. This way you can simply grab and go each morning!

2. Kids grow so fast! To eliminate piles of outgrown clothes, keep a large plastic bin in your child’s closet. As the child out grows clothes, toss them in the bin. When its full, mark the size clothes, and stash IT in storage. Then replace it with another bin!

3. How about toys? Look for a portable toy bin that will fit in your child’s closet. Then, bring the whole thing out into their room or the family room and let them play. When they’re done, toss the toys back inside and stash the bin back in the closet, a big timesaver, believe me!

4. Keep your favorite pre-treater close-by, but out of reach of the little ones. Pre-treat stains as you undress your children and then toss the clothes in the hamper. This way you won’t forget that the stains are there and you’ll be all set on laundry day!


Organizing Instructions

If your recipes and project instructions are all messy and disorganized, I have some easy ways to organize and protect those directions.

1. Put your recipe or project ideas into a magnetic photo album. It’s easy to organize them because the pages can be taken out and moved as you add more ideas under a certain topic. Plus, if you splatter something, you can wipe it off of the plastic pages.

2. If you don’t have your instructions in a photo album, try putting a piece of plastic wrap over the top. This will protect the pages too.

3. If you’re working from an instruction booklet and can’t seem to keep it open, grab a bag clip. This will hold the pages open to where you need them, and you can clip your plastic wrap in there too. Plus, if you need those directions at eye level, just hang the clip from a hook on the wall.

Oil & grease removal from concrete

To remove grease and oil stains from new or old concrete.

Use T.S.P General Household Cleaner

Directions: (Do not apply in direct sun) Wet surface with hot water. Straight from the bottle sprinkle cleaning formula over stained area and scrub in. Lay a damp terry towel over the entire stained area. Lay a plastic sheet over the towel to ensure the mixture doesn’t evaporate. Tape into place with duct tape. (Leave for at least 5 hours) Remove plastic & towel; scrub and hose down the area. Repeat if necessary.

Caution: Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when doing this job.

Oil spots on asphalt

New Oil Spots

Remove using “T.S.P General Household Cleaner”. Spray on surface and scrub with scrub brush, allow setting for 2 to 3 minutes and flushing with garden hose.

Old Spots (Asphalt shows signs of softness) Wash area using “T.S.P”, heavy-duty mix, and scrub with patio broom, then rinse with garden hose. Allow to dry.

Apply two coats white shellac 1 hour apart and allow overnight curing. Apply asphalt-based sealer to damaged areas and allow drying for 3 hours

Coating the entire driveway area will last for 2-3 years.

Future coatings can be acrylic latex driveway sealer.


Handy Person Tips

• Use your fertilizer spreader to scatter sand on icy walkways.
• To remove dangerous ice off your steps, sprinkle with salt.
• Kitty litter can be used to de-ice your sidewalks and steps.
• Fireplace Starters or Lighters: Save the lint from your dryer and paper egg cartons (not Styrofoam). Cut egg cartons into individual cups and fill cups with lint. Melt wax (from old candle stubs) and pour some over the lint. When lighting the fireplace use these, place them under the kindling in the fireplace. They are slow burning and do a great job in lighting the lire.
• Dried orange and grapefruit peels and rind make good fuel in a fireplace and give off a lovely aroma as they burn.
• Throw salt on fireplace logs once a month to prevent soot in the fireplace.
86. To prevent your fireplace from smoking, raise the fire grate by placing bricks under the legs.
• Save your Nabob coffee bags to burn in the fireplace. Roll up tightly and then watch the varicolored flames when the bags are burned.
• To add a little color to your campfire, soak pinecones in a solution of 1/2 gallon water and ½ pound Borax. When dry, they burn a vivid green.
• To make your Christmas tree last longer, add sugar to the water.
• To preserve your Christmas tree longer, add Pine sol to the water.
• To fireproof the Christmas tree, mix eight oz. boracic acid in one gallon of water. Spray mixture over tree and let dry.
• To clean automobile chrome, rub with dampened aluminum toil.
• Add one cup of kerosene to the wash water when washing the car. Wipe well with a soft cloth — no rinsing is necessary. This will prevent rust and water will actually bead on the car during a rainfall.
• Wash your car with liquid dishwashing detergent. It won’t scratch the surface.
• Use dry baking soda on a damp cloth to clean the bugs off the car windshield.
• Windshield wipers smearing? Clean the windshield and wiper blade with rubbing alcohol.
• Make your own windshield washer fluid by combining one quart rubbing alcohol, one cup water and two Tblsp. liquid detergents.
• Use steel wool pads on your tire white side walls to keep them new looking.
• Keep open cans of motor oil clean by sealing them with the plastic lids from one-pound tins of coffee.
• A sheet of fabric softener under your car seat will keep the car smelling fresh.

Mold and Mildew Inside Home

Problem: High humidity levels re-suit in mildew growth, which causes damage and potential allergic reaction.

Background: Mold growths that develop under favorable conditions are often seen as a discoloration, ranging in color from white to orange, and from green to brown to black. If mold can’t be seen, it may be recognized as a musty odor. Mold growth can cause soiling and deterioration of appliances and other items in a home. The build-up of mold in air cooling and humidifying units, plumbing fixtures, condensation trays, and drains can cause serious and often costly mechanical problems. Mold can discolor paint, weaken fabrics, and degrade food stuffs. It can also lead to odor problems.

What to do: Relative humidity levels above 70% are optimal for indoor mold build-up. Controlling the problem in a home usually involves three steps 1) eliminating moisture from inside and outside sources; 2) re moving mold colonies and spores, and 3) installing a mechanical ventilation system. One method of deter mining whether your home has a potential problem is to measure the relative humidity inside your house.

Optimal levels are 15% if outside temperature is -20°F, 20% if -10°F, 25% if +0°F, 30% if +10°F, and 35% to 40% if +20°F. Also visually inspect for mold colonies, including areas of stagnant water, and room corners.
Regularly clean appliances that have water pans or use moisture. Other steps to reduce humidity include turning humidifiers down or off, using range and bath exhaust fans while cooking or bathing, cooking with covered pans, installing a fresh-air intake duct to bring in drier outside air, venting dryers to the outside, sealing cracks in house or vapor retarders, and not using un vented kerosene or gas heaters.

Special advice: To remove existing mold, clean affected areas with a homemade solution of cup cleanser (such as Ajax or Comet), ½ cup no phosphate detergent, I quart 5% sodium hypocblorite (such as Clorox or Hilex), and 3 quarts warm water. Brush solution onto affected area with a medium-sized soft brush. After cleaning, rinse thoroughly with fresh water and, if possible, paint area with a mold- resistant paint.

Helpful hint: If a member of your household is allergic to mold, adding an air cleaner can help remove mold spores present. (Heating ducts need to be cleaned before adding an air cleaner.) If carpet, upholstery, ceiling tiles, or other porous furnishings are contaminated, it is best to discard them rather than attempting disinfection because mold spores are likely to remain.

Microwave Doesn’t Work

Problem: Microwave won’t operate, or takes longer to cook food than times suggested in cook books.

Background: Microwaves are like radio or radar waves. They will pass through glass, plastic, paper and most other containers that are not of metal. Microwaves bounce off of metal and are absorbed by food. When food absorbs microwaves, heat is created because water molecules in the food bounce around, colliding with each other. Heat is created by these collisions, much like the way your hands warm when you rub them together. For minor problems, which you can solve yourself, see the following suggestions. For other problems, check your owner’s manual or call a service technician.

What to do: If the microwave will not operate, make sure the unit is plugged in. If it’s plugged in and still doesn’t work, the cause may be faulty wiring, a blown fuse, or a tripped circuit breaker. Check to see whether the oven door is securely closed and that the controls are set correctly. Also check the air vents to make sure they are not blocked. The oven may overheat and turn off if the air vents are blocked. Let the oven cool for an hour, then restart it. If it still won’t operate, call a service technician.
If it takes the microwave longer than it should to cook food, check with your local utility company to see if the voltage in your area is fluctuating below the normal operating range. Next check to see if the micro wave is operating on the same electrical circuit as another appliance. If so, the cooking times will increase when both of the units are on at the same time. (Note: It’s best if the microwave does not share a circuit with any other appliance.) If the unit has a glass shelf, check to see that it is in place. If it isn’t, cooking times may be affected. Cooking time will also increase if more or larger amounts of food are placed in the oven than a recipe calls for, if the food is frozen or was refrigerated immediately before being put in the oven. (Some recipes reflect the time needed to cook food that is at room temperature.)

Special advice: Microwaves should not be adjusted or repaired by any one except properly qualified ser vice technicians. After a repair is made, the technician should check for microwave leakage. To avoid potentially harmful exposure to micro wave energy, don’t attempt to operate the microwave with the door open. Don’t tamper with safety interlocks. Don’t put any object between the oven front face and the door, or allow soil or cleaner residue to accumulate on sealing surfaces. Also, don’t operate the microwave if the door doesn’t close properly, if it is bent, if its hinges or latches are bro ken or loose, or if its seals or sealing surfaces are damaged.

Helpful hint: Remove metal ties from plastic bags before placing bags in the oven and check carry-out food for metal before reheating. For cooking times longer than 4 minutes, avoid using paper containers which may burn, and be careful when using plastics because some may melt. Don’t attempt to cook eggs in the shell because steam build-up inside may cause them to burst.

Manual Garage Door Won’t Open

Problem: A manually operated garage door will not open when the latch is turned and you attempt to lift it up.

Background: Garage doors, whether operated manually or with electric openers, are the heaviest moving equipment around the home. They depend on 1 of 2 types of springs to operate. Some mechanisms use ex tension springs that stretch like rubber bands to slow the closing of the door, and then contract to help lift the weight of the door when it is opened. Other doors use torsion springs that wind up like the springs in window shades to handle the weight of the door. Caution: If springs break, be careful when closing the door; the door’s weight will cause it to fall quickly and heavily.
A garage door may stick for many reasons, ranging from the key not working properly in the lock or a faulty latch mechanism, to more serious problems such as broken cables, bent or loose tracks, and jammed rollers.

What to do: If the outside handle won’t turn, it may be because the key or the latch are worn out. If the handle turns, but the door won’t lift, enter through the service door if there is one, and check the mechanism on the inside of the door. The problem may be a track bent inward which will not allow the horizontal bar (turned by the outside handle) to clear its slot. The solution, in this case, is to care fully bend the track back with a tool such as a pipe wrench. If that doesn’t work, or if the problem is more serious, it is best to call a garage door technician.
If the door opens, but takes more than a little effort to lift, the springs may need adjustment. However, at tempting to adjust garage door springs can be dangerous and should be done by a professional. Adjustments on torsion springs can be especially dangerous because special tools are required to do the job. The brackets that hold springs to the garage frame are also under tension; attempting to make adjustments to these brackets also can be hazardous.

Special advice: Do not attempt to solve difficult door-lifting problems by simply installing an electric opener. Call a technician to balance the door, even if you plan to install an opener. (Openers required to lift heavy, unbalanced weights may develop mechanical problems.) Regular, light maintenance can extend your garage door’s life. Check the cables for shiny spots, and be sure that strands at connections are not partially broken. Pulley wheels for cables should roll, not skid.
Also check the tracks to see that they are not bent or loose where they attach to the garage, and that the wheels roll freely. See that all bolts and screws are tight, and that all cotter pins are in place. Lubricate pulley bearings, wheel bearings, and door hiriges with lightweight house hold oil or a spray silicone.

Helpful hint: To check the balance of a garage door, start with door closed. (If your door is operated by electronic opener, disconnect its re lease mechanism so you can open it by hand.) Lift the door halfway up. It should lift smoothly, with little resistance, and it should stay open when it is 3 to 4 feet above the floor. If it doesn’t, it is out of balance and should be adjusted by a professional.

Interior and exterior door installation

Interior door installation

Most interior doors (excluding hi-fold doors) are pre-hung assembled or knock down ready to assemble.

To accommodate a pre-hung door the R. S. O. (rough stud opening) must be installed to allow for shimming tolerance, this is required for both sides and the top. The rule of thumb is one inch wider than the door width and one half inch higher including the door frame. This is to allow for any shrinkage or twisting in the rough stud opening. If your door is the knock down ready to assemble type put the unit together following the instructions. You will find that you can assemble for either right hand or left hand hinge, swinging in or out of the opening.

Apply a piece of 1×2 across the door at the bottom (right jamb to left jamb) to hold the door in the front plumb and square. Set the door in the opening and using carpenters square and level shim with cedar door shims and fasten with nails. Do the hinge side first then the others shimming where required top and side.


Exterior door installation

Installing a new exterior door will require you to make a number of decisions.

1. Solid core plywood faced door?
Will require a lot of maintenance, staining, sealing and painting.

2. Solid wood door i.e.: Western Red Cedar or Oak etc. Will require sanding, staining, natural finish — subject to temperature change inside and out. Panels may crack requiring repairs and refinishing on an annual basis.

3. Steel insulated door primed ready for paint? Most people assume steel insulated doors are a finished product (usually white in colour) “WRONG”. They must be painted within the first 6 to 8 months of installation using an exterior acrylic latex or exterior urethane paint. Door must be washed with T.S.P General Household Cleaner or T.S.R using a pot scrubber pad and rinsed well before painting.

4. Consider fibreglass-insulated doors, as they are maintenance friendly.

5. Good, Better, Best, One of the best doors available now is the new Protect Door manufactured by Guenther Doors. Their new laminated inner frame adds structural strength giving greater security and comfort.

Ice Dams Form on Roof

Problem: Ice dams form at roof edges, causing backup of snow water which can damage home.

Background: Ice dams cause mil lions of dollars of damage to homes in northern areas every year. They are especially prevalent when snow and weather conditions react with poor attic ventilation and insulation. Snow melts next to the shingles, runs down under the top layer of snow, and freezes near the edge of the roof. Additional snow water backs up under the shingles, resulting in soaked insulation; stained, cracked, or spalled plaster or wallboard; damp, smelly, and rotting wall cavities; and stained, blistered, or peeling wall paint inside and out side the house.

What to do: The most effective remedy is to improve both attic ventilation and insulation to keep roof temperatures as close to the outside temperature as possible. All other emergency measures are short-term, and have drawbacks. They may include using a roof rake, hosing ice dams with tap water on a warm day, or having the roof steamed. Removing snow from roofs can be dangerous, water runoff from hosing can damage shrubbery, and steam can expand and contract the roof deck.
Room ceilings should be insulated heavily to minimize heat losses and reduce attic temperatures, and the attic area should be ventilated sufficiently so outside air sweeps out any warmed attic air. Make sure insulation doesn’t lose effectiveness because of bridging, wires, or ceiling fixtures. Also check for uninsulated chimneys, gas vents, warm exhaust piping, or other sources of heat. (A rule of thumb is that attics should have 1 square inch of ventilation opening for each square foot of ceiling area.)

Special advice: Heating cables, arranged in a saw tooth pattern near the eaves, are sometimes installed to help prevent ice dams. They are generally ineffective: melting is limited to only a few inches from the cable, melting often causes secondary ice dams higher on the roof, and cables use large amounts of energy. Never chop through the ice dams down to the shingles, or use a blowtorch, because you may cause roof damage.

Helpful hint: Just improving attic insulation will not prevent ice dams; it must be done in conjunction with adequate ventilation using ridge vents, soffit vents, roof louvers, or power vents. Insulation also must not block air passages, especially immediately above outside walls.

How to repair a crack, a bigger hole or a large hole in drywall

How to repair a crack in drywall:

1. Apply joint compound inside the crack using a wide drywall knife. Use ample amounts to fill the crack and create an even surface with the surrounding area. Al low time to dry You can tell when it is dry by waiting until it turns an even, white color If it is still a shade darker in some areas, it is not completely dry This usually takes a couple of hours. To speed up the process, you can add heat or a fan to the area.

2. Sand this area with 100-grit or similar sandpaper, or a damp washcloth, for a smooth surface. This does not have to be perfect, however, since this is just the bottom layer.

3. Apply additional joint compound (mud) to the crack.

4. Immediately apply paper joint tape over the entire crack in the wet mud.

5. Smooth the joint tape with the wide drywall knife, working from the center outward.

6. Use additional joint compound to apply layers over the tape and blend (feather) it into the surrounding areas.

7. Let dry for several hours.

8. Repeat these steps until the repaired area blends with the surrounding wall. Don’t worry—if you mess up, you can always sand it down and start over.

9. Sand with 100-grit or similar sandpaper until smooth.

10. Try to re-create the texture of the wall. Do this by put ting a small amount of joint compound on a wet wash cloth. Dab it onto the wall like you would a sponge, until you have closely matched the surrounding texture, adding or subtracting wherever necessary

11. You are ready to prime. Make sure you use a primer before you paint because the new substance on the wall is much more porous and will absorb paint more quickly changing the color and texture of the paint slightly.

12. Allow two coats of primer to dry before applying the paint to match your wall.

How to repair a bigger hole in drywall:

1. If the hole is bigger (anything larger than the golf ball but smaller than a softball) or has cracked edges, you need to do a little bit more. Get a ‘peel and stick repair patch” from the hardware store.

2. Peel and stick the patch over the hole.

3. Apply a thin layer of joint compound over the entire patch with a wide drywall knife.

4. Let the compound dry.

5. Add a second or third coat until the area blends in with the surrounding areas.

6. Let the compound dry and the patch set until everything is completely dry

7. Sand with 100-grit or similar sandpaper until smooth.

8. Try to re-create the texture of the wall. Do this by put ting a small amount of joint compound on a wet wash cloth. Dab it onto the wall like you would a sponge, until you have closely matched the surrounding texture, adding or subtracting wherever necessary.

9. You are ready to prime. Make sure you use a primer before you paint because the new substance on the wall is much more porous and will absorb paint more quickly changing the color and texture of the paint slightly.

10. Allow two coats of primer to dry before applying the paint to match your wall.

How to repair a large hole in drywall:

1. Square the hole by cutting around it in a square pat tern using a utility blade or drywall saw.

2. If the hole is near a stud, you are in luck. Cut the dry wall back to about ½ inch over the stud and skip to step 7.

3. If there is no stud, you will have to make your own tiny studs.

4. Take small pieces of scrap wood or drywall and place them behind the drywall surface.

5. While holding them close, use drywall screws to attach these tiny studs to the outmost edges of your new square hole. These are what you will use to attach your new piece of drywall.

6. Cut the drywall patch a little bit smaller than your square hole so it will fit easily into the hole.

7. Attach the patch to the tiny studs or main studs in all four corners with drywall screws.

8. Apply fiberglass mesh tape to all the seams.

9. Apply a thin layer of joint compound over the entire patch with a wide drywall knife.

10. Let the compound dry

11. Add a second or third coat until the area blends in with the surrounding areas.

12, Let the compound dry and patch set until everything is completely dry.

13. Sand with 100-grit or similar sandpaper until smooth.

14. Try to re-create the texture of the wall. Do this by putting a small amount of joint compound on a wet washcloth. Dab it onto the wall like you would a sponge, until you have closely matched the surrounding texture, adding or subtracting wherever necessary

15. You are ready to prime. Make sure you use a primer before you paint because the new substance on the wall is much more porous and will absorb paint more quickly, changing the color and texture of the paint slightly.

16. Allow two coats of primer to dry before applying the paint to match your wall.

How To Remove Wallpaper

1. Every good job starts with preparation. For this prep, simply move all furniture away from the wall and cover it with drop cloths. If you are in a bathroom with a tile floor, yon are pretty much ready to go.

2. Begin in the corners. See if you can grab a piece of wallpaper and begin to pull. Sometimes you will hit the jackpot and it will simply peel right off. Most times, you will be able to pull some off with ease, but you will be left with some stubborn spots of paper and a lot of leftover glue residue.

3. Remove all that you can while dry

4. Fill your squirt bottle with hot water. It just has to be hot/warm (not boiling). Out of your tap is fine.

5. Spray a good mist on the wall, starting at the top and moving in about a four-foot section across. Be sure to mist well.

6. Repeat about four times, until the wall is saturated. Be careful, however, not to oversaturated, as it can ruin dry wall if it gets too wet.

7. Take your scraper and gently start scraping away wall paper and/or glue residue. I say “gently” because it is very easy to nick or gouge the wet drywall.

8. Repeat this process until the entire wall is wallpaper! Glue free.

9. Some places will tell you to score the wallpaper with a razor blade, but this is never a good idea. This will leave your wall scratched and nicked.

10. If you are still left with residue on the wall, grab some sandpaper and sand it away. You can start with a really rough surface (60 grit), and gradually work your way up to a very smooth surface (220 grit). This should remove all gunks from the wall. Keep in mind that you may have to go through a lot of sandpaper, as it will get “gunked up” with all the glue.