Lots of household problems and accidents happen due to plain old goof-ups.
Here’s a rundown of the most common issues or maintenance you might easily miss and a few annoyances you can take care of quickly.
Follow these tips so you’re not the goof.
Fixing a clogged garbage disposal
Here’s one goof you can prevent by making sure it never happens. Most garbage disposal clogs are caused by fibrous foods, grease and fat, eggshells, too much pasta, or nonfood items like tabs and rubber bands.
Clearing out a clogged disposal unit is best left to a pro plumber, but you can approach it as a DIY job if you take careful precautions:
— Turn off the power to the unit. Unplug it if possible.
— Never, ever place your hand into the grinding chamber, even if the power is off.
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— Use a flashlight to look inside the disposal for visible blockage. Use tongs or a similar tool to remove any blockage.
— If you can’t see anything inside, look underneath your sink. In the center on the bottom of the disposal, insert a quarter-inch hex wrench into the hole. Work it back and forth until you can turn it in a full circle. Look inside and remove any object with tongs.
— If a hole is not present at the bottom of the disposal, use the tongs or a broom handle in the sink hole to work the blades back and forth. Check again for obstructions.
— Check for the reset button on the bottom of the disposal. When you find it, push the button to reset the garbage disposal.
If these steps don’t help, call an appliance repair pro for assistance.
Noisy cabinets and doors
This is less of a goof than a hassle, but you’ll undoubtedly appreciate getting rid of it. Newer soft-close hinges and drawers have been offered in recent kitchen cabinets, but homes before the 2000s won’t have them. But if you’re tired of the constant noise when kids are ransacking the cabinets looking for snacks, you can address the problem without breaking the bank and overhauling your whole kitchen.
Cabinet noises happen because there’s nothing but a wood door or drawer hitting the face frame of the cabinet. Many cabinets have rubber bumpers on their edges, but these wear off over time.
The easiest solution is to purchase self-adhesive bumpers and apply them to each corner, minimizing clanking.
You can also add soft-close dampers to the hinges and frames. This requires a little more cost and effort with a screwdriver.
The most complex approach is to install soft-close hinges and drawer glides, which make them perfectly smooth and silent. This approach requires the most money and effort, but it’s well worth it.
You can hire a childproofing pro to entirely go over your home at an average of $400. But you can also take steps to make your home as safe as possible.
You already know to set up baby gates and place childproof plugs in electrical outlets and latches on drawers and cabinets to keep out little fingers. But don’t overlook choking hazards, either. Keep children away from drawstrings on window shades — or upgrade to string-free shades. Use toilet locks, pool fencing and other water-hazard protections to protect against drowning.
Heavy appliances and furnishings are among the most dangerous factors for small children. Use metal brackets, anchors or specialty straps to secure furniture to the wall. This particularly applies to bookcases — a significant tipping hazard for kids prone to climbing.
Get scratches out of hardwood floors
Here's a fix for a goof that’s already happened. Scratches can seriously tarnish the beauty of your hardwood floors and furniture, but there is a way to disguise them — with a walnut.
Simply crack the meat of a walnut in half and run it over the scratch from several angles. Rub it with your finger, then wipe away the excess. The walnut oil will work into the damage and restore the color.
It’s not a flawless fix, but it’s a budget-friendly, easy and effective way to restore wood floors.
Your everyday toolkit: Keep these items on hand for home repairs
Keep a box with these essential basics: tape measure, claw hammer, utility knife, level, crescent wrenches, hex keys, a handsaw, pliers, multiple screwdrivers and a collection of screws and nails.
Try to keep it organized and easily accessible; it’s very easy for a tool box to dissolve into chaos if you don’t keep things in proper order. You’ll thank yourself later on when you need to find a particular screwdriver for a task.
Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher per floor. If you have only one, make sure it’s near the kitchen, where most home fires start.
Look for an ABC-rated unit that will extinguish all fire types.
Teach everyone in the home where it is and how to use it. While you’re at it, make sure your family has a plan to escape in the event of fire, and practice it.
Drill and drill bits
A battery-powered drill and driver is an essential home tool. Add a selection of drill bits in many sizes to be ready for whatever you need.
The standard 12-volt cordless drill you can find at many big-box stores should provide more than enough juice for most home purposes.
Emergency supply kit
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends keeping an easily accessible kit with these items for emergencies: three days of food for every person in the house, 1 gallon of water per day per person, first-aid kit, flashlight, weather radio, basic tools, dust masks, plastic sheets, garbage bags, can opener, medicine, hygiene products and cellphone charger.
You can find more details from FEMA at Ready.gov/kit.
A must-have for many household needs. Many injuries take place due to people using chairs or other inappropriate stand-ins for a ladder.
Remember to practice ladder safety: Never go beyond its recommended top step, don’t try to reach just a few inches more, and have a buddy hold and stabilize the ladder for you.
Keep plastic gloves, leather gloves, dust masks, ear protection and eye protection on hand. You never know when a job might call for them. It’s wise to use protection during a wide variety of tasks — a mishap during yard work or while using a drill can lead to an eye injury. You can usually find safety kits that will include all the basics you need.