Easy Repairs

You're in the home now. But you've discovered a leaky faucet, a broken window, or a stopped-up toilet or sink drain. What to do? First, visit FixItClub.com for specific steps for hundreds of easy household repairs.

To fix a leaky faucet:

1. Shut off the water supply and remove the faucet handle.

2. Loosen the packing nut and slip both the nut and the old packing off the stem.

3. Take the packing to a local hardware store and ask for a replacement packing set for your faucet.

4. Install the new packing following instructions on the packing kit container.

To replace broken glass in a single-glazed window:

1. Spread out a heavy cloth to protect the floor from falling pieces of glass. Put on some heavy gloves to protect your hands from the shards. Place a container nearby to receive the broken pieces. (Banish kids and pets from the area.)

2. Remove the broken glass from the window frame.

3. Remove any old putty or rubber seal from the frame.

4. Look for and remove any small metal parts (called glazier's points) that hold the glass in place in the frame.

5. Clean out the frame with a putty knife.

6. Measure the thickness of the glass and the area that needs replaced, and then go get a new piece of glass that is the same size and thickness. Some larger hardware stores will have common sizes in stock. Otherwise an associate will cut the glass to the size you need. (Be sure to cover the empty frame with plastic to keep bugs and weather out while you go to the store.)

7. Carefully install the glass, the glaziers' points, and the putty or seal.

Double-glazed windows should be replaced by the manufacturer or an authorized window shop.

To unplug a stopped toilet:

1. Use a suction plunger, or "plumber's helper," to attempt to unplug the drain hole. Moving the plunger up and down applies suction pressure to dislodge anything stuck in the drain.

2. If this doesn't work, use a closet auger, or "snake," to dislodge whatever's stuck in the drain. The thick metal wire is pushed or "snaked" down the drain until it hits an obstruction. The auger's handle is then turned to dislodge the blockage.

3. If the drain is still clogged, call your plumber and look for a co-signer.

Other drains in the home (kitchen, bathroom sink, fish cleaning tub) can also become clogged. Kitchen drains may get food lodged in them. Bathroom sinks and tubs can become clogged with hair. You don't want to know what clogs a fish-cleaning tub!

To clear a sink drain (without a disposal):

1. Use a suction plunger, or "plumber's helper," over the drain to dislodge the blockage. Plungers typically work better if there is water standing in the sink.

2. If the plunger doesn't unblock the drain, use one of the liquid drain-opener products. Be careful as some contain lye or other caustic products that can splash on your skin and burn you. Do not plunge after using a chemical solvent!

3. If it still isn't happening, consider removing the U-shaped trap underneath the sink. To do so:

a) Place a container under it to catch water in the trap.

b) Wear thick rubber gloves and a face and eye mask to avoid lye burns.

c) Turn the connections at each end of the trap until it comes free. Pour water from the trap into the bucket.

d) If you don't find an obstruction in the trap, use an auger (see above) to clean out the drain line below the trap.

e) Clean out or replace the trap unit, making sure you get new seals for each end.

f) Reassemble and test.

 
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