Minor Problems, Major Headaches

By: Danny Lipford
Homeowner Mary Leavins

Homeowner Mary Leavins

Every home has them – minor problems that create major headaches. Over the years we’ve shown you a variety of projects in different styles of homes. But instead of working in a detached house, we helped condo owner Mary Leavins correct some annoying little issues in her home.

Having owned her condo for 27 years, Mary understood the importance of staying on top of home maintenance, and she was very diligent in making repairs she could herself. She recently made a career change to become a Realtor, which piqued her interest in home improvement even more.

The repairs we made at Mary’s house were fairly simple ones. Individually, they didn’t have a big impact on her day-to-day life; but combined they were nagging nuisances that were slowly eroding the value of her home. We took care of them, but more important, we showed Mary how to take on these kinds of issues on her own.

Replacing the Garbage Disposal

The first item on Mary’s punch list was a leaky garbage disposal, which was also causing problems with the dishwasher. The unprocessed food from the broken disposal was being forced into the dishwasher drain line – and that created quite a foul smell.

garbage disposal

A new disposal and GFCI outlet were installed in the kitchen.

The disposal couldn’t be repaired, so we replaced it with a new one. But, before installing the new disposal we showed Mary a detail that a lot of do-it-yourselfers miss. Since Mary has a dishwasher, we removed the knockout plug on the disposal inlet that allows waste from the dishwasher to drain into the disposal. If a dishwasher drain connection isn’t present, you would simply leave the knockout plug in place.

Watch How to Fix a Clogged Kitchen Garbage Disposal and check out Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Garbage Disposal Running Right for more info.

And, to keep Mary and her home safe, we updated the broken receptacle under the cabinet with a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet, which is always advisable in damp locations to prevent electric shock.

bifold closet door

The bifold closet doors now open and close properly.

Fixing Bifold and Sliding Closet Doors

sliding door guide

Mary’s sliding closet doors didn’t close properly, so we installed the missing floor guide. When the door is closed, the margin between the door and the casing should be consistent from top to bottom before marking the guide location. The challenge was penetrating the concrete underneath the carpeting, so we used a masonry bit to drive the screws.

Here’s a tip for drilling through carpet: Heat the drill bit with a candle or lighter first. It will “cauterize” or melt the carpet fibers as it goes through them, so they won’t unravel. Once the screws were driven in, the floor guide was secure and the door worked perfectly.

Next, we tackled the bifold door to Mary’s laundry room. Once we got both doors down, we laid them out flat, side by side with the inside surfaces facing up. Then we added the missing alignment hardware before re-hanging them. Watch How to Hang Bifold Closet Door for step-by-step instructions.

removing broken light bulb

Removing Broken Light Bulb

The ceiling fan in the living room had a broken pull chain switch. Here’s how we went about replacing it.

And the ceiling fan in Mary’s bedroom had a broken light bulb. We’ve all heard of the potato trick for removing a broken light bulb from the socket, but here’s a better way. Turn off the power to the fixture at the breaker. Heat the mouth of a plastic water bottle and insert it into the base of the light bulb. Allow it to cool for a few seconds before turning it counterclockwise to remove the broken bulb. Watch Tip for Removing Broken Light Bulb for details.

Other Tips from This Episode

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Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Joe’s 3 Favorite Painting Tips

Painting is the No. 1 do-it-yourself home improvement project, and here are my three favorite painting tips. Watch the video.

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Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Ryobi Whole Stud Detector

Ryobi’s whole stud detector gives you a snapshot of what’s going on behind the wall, from the width of the stud to the thickness of the drywall. It is available at The Home Depot. Watch the video.

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Minor Problems, Major Headaches