Key Doesn’t Work In Door

Problem: Door won’t open be cause of binding or broken key, a stuck bolt, or a frozen lock.

Background: Like most other mechanical devices, keys and locks can wear out or become damaged. Some times lock problems are caused by a misaligned door. To prevent lock problems, periodically inspect them, tighten loose screws, apply lock lubricant, and make adjustments as necessary to strike-plates. Excessively loose tubular or cylinder locksets, or locks that seize the key, may be candidates for replacement; however, sometimes a locksmith can replace worn tumblers and springs.

What to do: If the lock is frozen, try warming the key and reinserting it, or try squirting alcohol into the key hole. When a key breaks in a lock, it is often because it was not pushed in completely before turning, or the wrong key was pushed into the lock. If part of the key stays inside the lock, remove the cylinder and try pushing the key part out with a fine pin from the shaft end. When keys bend, it may be caused by a poorly made duplicate key. If an original key works in the lock, have the duplicate remade. Binding can also be caused by worn tumblers. If you think this is the problem, remove the cylinder and take it to a locksmith. If the key turns, but the bolt sticks, check to make sure the bolt isn’t blocked by paint. If the bolt can’t move because the door is misaligned, check and align the door.

Special advice: To help avoid lock problems, try to make all keys easily identified. When having duplicate keys made, go to a qualified lock smith who uses top-quality blanks. (Having at least 1 extra duplicate key kept in a secure place can pre vent an emergency.) When replacing locksets, spend more for the best quality you can afford. Locks can be lubricated with graphite (in a pinch, rub keys with graphite from a wooden pencil) or with fine oil sold for that purpose. Don’t use regular lubricating oil.

Helpful hint: When locking up the home, don’t lock all other doors from the inside; if the door locked with a key doesn’t work you won’t be able to gain entry to the inside of the home.

Great Tip For Painting New Trim work

Here’s a good tip (as an alternative) for painting new trim work.

Most people install the trim work – and then paint.

Well, the following tip is a great way to avoid any mishaps. If you’ve got some delicate areas that would require a lot of masking for protection, such as being next to expensive carpet, or against hardwood flooring, you might consider painting — before – installation.

And once installed, simply putty and caulk where necessary, and then touch-up.

• Set up your new trim either outside, or in large ventilated room where you can lay the pieces out and can be totally unobstructed.

• Lightly spray-on (from a spray can) your finish paint – or – brush on your favorite satin, semi-gloss, or high gloss finish. One, or two coats should do it.

• Let completely dry for several hours (or better yet, overnight).

• Install trim.

• Putty and caulk where necessary.

• Touch-up with your finish paint.

I wouldn’t recommend going this route for new construction. It is, however, excellent wherever a minimal amount of replacement trim might be needed, like for a small repair. You be the judge. I’ve known handymen who have done this for entire rooms, and were completely happy with the results.

It really is for people who might otherwise get real nervous when having to finish painting in delicate, tight areas that require a very steady brush, and firm control.

Furnace Doesn’t Work

Problem: Furnace is dead, or doesn’t turn on when the thermostat is raised.

Background: What are often thought to be furnace emergencies are caused by the thermostat being set or operated wrong, by having the power to the furnace cut off, or by not having fuel or a working pilot light. (Important: If you detect gas odor in your home or in the furnace area, take immediate precautions.

What to do: First double-check to be sure that power is reaching the furnace. Check the circuit breakers or fuses at the main service box. If reset breakers or replaced fuses blow again, call a service technician. Also check to see that any switches on or near the furnace are turned on. Be sure that the thermostat is set in the “heat” position, and that it is set above room temperature. If the furnace doesn’t come on after an interval, check the furnace itself. If you have a gas furnace, the gas valve should be turned to “on.” If you have an oil furnace, check the fuel level in the tank. If the furnace has a pilot light, check to make sure that it is lit. If not, relight it carefully, following the instructions in the owner’s manual or on the unit.

(Warning: If you smell gas, leave the area immediately and call a technician. The lighting instructions for a gas furnace should explain the procedure to use to determine whether the gas valve is good. If the test procedure indicates the gas valve is bad, turn off furnace gas valve and main gas valve and call a technician. Also call for help if the pilot light does not stay lit after several tries.)

Special advice: Most furnace controls will have a reset switch. If the furnace starts after the reset switch is pushed, but shuts off again, call a technician. Gas furnaces equipped with an electronic ignition device, instead of a pilot light, have a gas valve designed for slow opening. It first opens part way to let just enough gas through for safe ignition of the burners. After a few seconds it opens fully to allow proper flame height. The burners should light within 2 seconds after the gas valve opens. If air in the valve and lines prevents the flame from being established within 6 seconds or so, the system will go into “lock-out.” To reset, wait 1 minute and turn the thermostat to a setting below room temperature. Then turn back up to a setting above room temperature; this should re-start the ignition cycle.

Helpful hint: If the furnace works, but heat is not circulating, the problem may be with the blower or the blower belt. If the flame on burner is yellow or blue, or lifts off of the burner, call for a technician to adjust. Check your owner’s manual for annual maintenance suggestions and keep the furnace and its components free of lint or dirt accumulation.




Remove the furniture and wall hangings or place them in the center of the room, and cover with a drop cloth. Remove light fixtures from the walls if possible, and cover outlets with plastic bags. Cover the floor with a drop cloth. Now clean and prepare the surfaces to be painted. The ceiling should be the starting point, and then work across the walls. Paint the woodwork last.


Ideal for walls and ceilings, latex is available as a matte or silk finish. It is water soluble and dries quickly.

1. Work in areas of 2 sq ft (60 sq cm) in light, crisscross strokes. Do not apply the paint too thickly.

2. Finish with an upward stroke. Move to the adjacent area. Do not apply more coats until the first coat is dry.

Electric Blanket Doesn’t Work

Problem: Electric blanket doesn’t seem to be heating properly.

Background: Electric blankets that are not operating should be returned to the store from which they were purchased. Often, however, they may not operate properly because something is interfering with the control’s ability to gauge the room temperature and properly control the blanket’s warmth.

What to do: To troubleshoot with an electric blanket, first check the outlet and all connections. Be sure the wired portion of the blanket is not tucked in under the mattress or bed slat, and that it is not crimped against the wall or footboard. This will cause the safety thermostats to shut off. The blanket also may not operate if the average room temperature is much above 72°. Check to be sure the control is not covered by another blanket, sheet, or spread. Also while in use, avoid laying books or heavy items on the blanket, don’t sit on it, and don’t cover it with another blanket or bedspread.

Special advice: To test an electric blanket to see if it is operating, fold the blanket, connect the control, and plug it into the outlet. Turn the control to high and wait 10 minutes. You should be able to feel its warmth when you put your hand between the folds.

Helpful hint: Avoid folding the blanket when it is in use, do not use it for infants, disabled persons, or anyone sensitive to heat. Always turn an electric blanket off when not in use. Also, if a dual-control blanket doesn’t seem to work, check to make sure it is not turned over, causing the control on one side to operate the blanket on the opposite side, and vice versa.