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Yes, You CAN Fix It Yourself

7 easy solutions to common home problems

Realistic DIY Home Improvements

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From paint jobs to garbage disposals — don’t get overwhelmed by the little projects around the house. Some are really DIY.

Blow Away A/C Woes

Air conditioner not working well? Look for leaves and debris that have been sucked into the exterior unit. Use a leaf blower to clear the outside screen of unwanted stuff.

Get Disposal Back to the Grind

A jammed garbage disposal can give you a sinking feeling — but in most cases you can fix it easily. First, turn off the power to the disposal. On the bottom of the unit you’ll find a recessed hexagonal screw, usually one-quarter inch wide. Using an Allen wrench (or a specially made disposal wrench, available for about $6 in hardware stores), crank the screw back and forth, slowly loosening whatever is causing the jam. If the red circuit breaker button near the hole has popped out, push it back in before turning the power on again.

Put Heat on Freezer Rattle

Especially in the summer months, some refrigerator/freezer models start making an annoying — and sometimes deafening — rattling sound. That’s from ice building up on the freezer fan during the defrost cycle. You can solve this noisy nuisance by simply leaving the freezer door open for a long time — but you’ll save time (and your frozen food) by unplugging the unit and aiming a running hair dryer at the fan vent, located at the top rear of the freezer, for a few minutes.

Bonus: This trick also works to melt frozen water jams in your automatic icemaker.

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Save the Stucco

Major stucco cracks can cause leaks that require a professional’s know-how — but if rain or sprinkler water occasionally dribbles through hairline cracks in your exterior stucco, you can slow the flow. Buy a can of low-viscosity liquid silicone at the hardware store, pour it into a spray bottle, and slowly apply the silicone into the crack. The stuff will flow down into the hidden crevices, creating a seal.

Strip Down Your Heating Bill

Stand by your front door on a cold day and you may actually feel the frigid air pouring in around the edges. That probably means your old weather stripping is either inadequate or simply rotting away. A roll of adhesive weather stripping costs less than $20 at the hardware store, and all you need to do is yank off the old stuff, peel off the backing and press the new stripping into place.

Make Squeaks Take a Powder

Annoying, squeaky floorboards might send you stomping for a carpenter, but try this first: Locate the squeaky spot where boards come together and sprinkle it with baby powder. Next, push down on the boards, working the powder between them. After the squeaks scram, be sure to thoroughly brush up the remaining powder and wipe with floor cleaner.

Erase Scratches

You might not have to refinish — or even worse, replace — scratched-up cabinets, tables and drawers. Some skillful scribbling with a brown crayon (or even an eyebrow pencil) might do the trick. Find a good match, color in the scratch, and wipe away the excess. Hardware stores also sell specialized crayons in various wood-grain colors.