Ten-minute fixes get things done

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured - posted Mon., May. 20, 2013
- Contributed Photo

Having trouble getting the little things done? Can't find a place to start? Start with those really annoying things or the problems that have been around forever.

Pick out some 10-minute projects that will get something done and generate some personal satisfaction. There really are things you can accomplish in 10 minutes, if you think it out, and do the preparation. If you wait until somebody nags you into it or you just can't stand living with the annoyance anymore, it will take a half-hour or more. Here are some examples:

Does that water stain on the ceiling call to you every time you enter the living room? Removing it is easy for smooth ceilings. Textured ceilings are more of a challenge. You will need a spray bottle, some oxygen bleach, or even chlorine bleach. If you use chlorine bleach, dilute it with water 10-1. Cover anything around it with plastic drop cloth. Set the sprayer on a fine setting, spray the area lightly, wait a few minutes and blot the solution with a white cloth or paper towel. Repeat until the stain is gone. You may need to apply some ceiling white paint afterward.

Does the kitchen or bathroom faucet spray in a direction other than downward? Clean it out by removing or replacing the screen. Traditional units can usually be unscrewed by hand, but a rubber glove might help. Use an old toothbrush to break things free of the mesh. If your screen looks as though it is corroded, it is probably caused by minerals in your water. Soak it for 30 minutes or more in an oxygen bleach solution. You should be able to remove that crust pretty easily.

Fixing the loose flushing arm on the toilet is quite easy. Clear all the decorations, etc., off the top of the tank. Remove it and set it safely in the floor or in the tub. Hold the handle with one hand, and turn the retaining nut on the inside counterclockwise. ("Righty, tighty; lefty, loosey" does not apply in this case.)

Those spinning drawer pull knobs are trying to tell you something. Sooner or later they will come off altogether. It could be that the threads are wearing out inside the knob. Inspect it and replace it if you can find a match. Otherwise, remove the screw, paint it with some clear nail polish, and put it back together. It is better to turn the screw with a screwdriver than to rotate the knob until it is tight.

To fix a loose door or cabinet hinge you will need a screwdriver, some wooden matches or toothpicks and wood glue. You will have to remove the door and the hinge first. Examine the hinge to be sure it is not badly worn, and therefore causing the problem. Dip the match or toothpicks in glue. Tap them into the screw holes as far as they can go. Then snap them off, and let them sit for as long as it takes the glue to dry. Re-install the hinge.

Other annoyances that belong on the 10-minute fix list are things such as closing up a loose wallpaper seam, replacing a leaky shutoff valve and silencing a squeaky floorboard. From time to time you will see these and other 10-minute fixes in this column.

Remember, preparation is the key. When you recognize a 10-minute fix, give it enough thought to understand what you need to get it done. Jot down everything you need, including the right tools, parts and materials. If you need something from the store, such as adhesive for the wallpaper seam, a washer for the faucet or a spray bottle to bleach out a ceiling stain, keep a note in your pocket, so you will remember to get it on your next trip.

Make notes in a folder on your computer or in your home's journal. List all the things you need, so you can take that list with you as you set out to actually do the 10-minute fix. That way you can hit the shop, pick up the tools and materials, and get it done.

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