Basic home repairs

Basic home repairs

A guide to common home repairs, including fixing squeaking stairs and replacing broken windows.

Photo Credit: Anne Kitzman
By John Casteele

Home repairs can be costly, time consuming, and can put you and your family out of sorts while the professionals do their job. Don’t you wish that you could just do some of the things yourself, and save some money while you’re at it? To be honest, there are several home repairs that you can do yourself that don’t require a large investment of time or money.

First of all, let’s look at creaking stairs. Not only is it an annoyance, but creaking stairs can sometimes make noise at night when the house is settling… and that can lead to the fear that someone is in your house that shouldn’t be (or at least the fear that your house is haunted.) In most cases, though, the creaking is caused by the top of one stair being loose and rubbing against the riser of the next stair. Simply drive 2 or 3 nails into the creaking stair at an angle so that the nail also imbeds itself in the riser of the next stair, and the problem should be taken care of.

Next, we’ll look at pieces where the screws or nails have become loose and are starting to either sag or come apart. To help tighten a loose screw, wrap a small amount of steel wool around the thread of the screw and then screw it all the way in. This should tighten it up quite nicely. If loose nails are a problem, stick a toothpick or two into the nail hole and break it off even with the surface. Retry the old nail (or use a new one) and you should find that the wood of the toothpicks fill in the excess space.

If you have marble or stonework that has become chipped or broken, it can usually be repaired using epoxy resin. Rub down the edges of the break with a coarse glass-paper, and clean the area that you plan on mending with a mild detergent and water. Once dry, apply the epoxy and brace the pieces together until the epoxy resin has dried. You can repair chips in marble by mixing epoxy resin with whiting, to match the color of the marble, and filling in the chipped area. You may need to sand the dried resin down to be even with the marble, and then should polish the entire area.

Finally, broken windows can be repaired by removing the glass and reglazing the window. After you’ve removed the broken glass, remove the remaining putty and the sprigs (which are the small nails that hold the glass in place) or the clips (which are used in place of sprigs on metal-framed windows). Brush the window frame with a stiff brush to remove any remaining glass or putty, and then apply a new bed of putty for the glass. When applying the putty, use your thumb and forefinger, and press firmly on the edges of the putty (as opposed to the center.) Put the new glass into the window, pushing it into place in the putty. Add new sprigs or clips 9″ apart, and put on another layer of putty (which should be smoothed to a bevel with a putty knife.) Add miters in the corners, and trim off any excess putty on the glass. Allow to dry for a week, and then paint over the putty to match the window frame.

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