Homeowners often wonder about doing small repairs so they can avoid hiring a professional. Here are a few do-it-yourself jobs that may allow you to do that.
• The grout on your tile floor is really dirty. But you can clean it yourself in some cases:
It’s possible to do this job if you have only a small area to clean, provided that you’re willing to get down on your hands and knees and put a little effort into it. But for larger areas, you are better off hiring a professional than doing this back-breaking job yourself. You probably also do not want to try this on travertine floors.
To begin, wash the area with clean water. Then combine a little baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar with water to create a paste and apply the paste to the grout with a toothbrush. Some homeowners even suggest using an old battery powered toothbrush.
Wipe off the extra paste and rinse again with water. Try to confine yourself to the seams of grout; you don’t want to scratch the tiles themselves.
Another reason to hire a cleaning company is that workers can seal the grout afterward to keep it cleaner in future.
An extra tip: Most homeowners use mild, no-rinse tile cleaners when they mop their stone or porcelain floors. You don’t want to rinse off the cleaner, but try drying it with an old white towel to pick up any grit or dirt that may be left behind in the mopping process.
• You have a door that sticks and sags. You even have to lift up the door to get the deadbolt to go into the frame:
When a door is sticking or seems to be sagging, you probably don’t have to take it off the hinges to fix it. Too often, handy homeowners reach for a plane or sander to work on the edges of the door. Don’t do that. The first thing to try is tightening up the top hinge.
But to find out exactly what’s going on, stand on the hinge side of the door and close it. You may find that your door is hitting near the top of the strike jamb – that’s the vertical part of the frame where the locking mechanism is. Sometimes you even have to lift the door just to close it. So the problem is definitely the top hinge.
Next, determine whether that top hinge is loosening and pulling off the door or is pulling out of the frame into which it is screwed. If it is pulling away from the door, it’s probably because the screws are loosening up and won’t tighten any more. Remove the screws from the top hinge in the door itself and glue some wooden plugs into the stripped-out screw holes. Let them dry overnight; then pre-drill and reset screws.
If the hinge seems to be loosening up on the side that screws into the frame, remove the screws and go to a hardware store to purchase 2-1/2-inch screws in a finish to match your hinge. Pre-drill the existing screw holes to a depth of 2 inches and install 2-1/2-inch screws. This will transport the weight of door from the jamb to the structural skeleton of the house. Be careful not to over-tighten, as this could cause misalignment again. It might be smart to use a manual screwdriver instead of a power driver in order to avoid problems.
• Your sliding closet doors come off their tracks every time you open the closet:
The problem in this case can range from dirt in the tracks of the doors to door rollers that need replacing.
Start by removing the doors from the closet opening. Slide the door partway open and lift it up into the top track; tilt the bottom out and lower the door to the floor.
Once you have it on the floor, you can check the tracks; vacuum them and clean them with a damp rag and lubricate them. You may have to straighten a track if it’s bent by using a wood block and a hammer.Check the guides on the floor; they may be bent or damaged and need replacing. You might also have to put longer screws into the tracks.
Maybe your closet door rollers are bent or broken. If there is major damage, remove the rollers from the door and find replacements at a hardware store.
For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 29 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program, heard locally from 9 to 11 a.m. on KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley. Call 888-767-4348.