Get things done with 10-minute fixes
2013-8-15 13:59:40

A while back, I explained how it is possible to get a lot of things done with 10-minute fixes. By making a 10-minute project list - along with a list of materials needed to get them done - you can do one in an evening or several in just a half-hour on a weekend.

Toilet and sink shutoff valves fail when you least need them to. Unfortunately, they are never turned off until you have to do some plumbing work, and that is exactly when they fail. Because they are never exercised, they corrode and/or the washers dry out. So when you turn them off, they might not actually close off the water flow or they may actually break. That, of course, assumes you can really turn them at all.

You will need a pan to catch any residual water as you disconnect things, an adjustable wrench or pliers, and some Teflon tape or plumbers dope. Also, locate the valve that shuts the water flow off to this section of your plumbing.

Go to your plumbing supply store with a photo of your valve, and purchase a replacement. Have a knowledgeable store clerk help you so you don't forget things you might need.

First turn the water valve off, and open the faucet at the sink or flush the toilet. Disconnect the faucet or toilet fill line from the valve you are replacing. Then disconnect the valve from the water pipe. Clean the male and female threads that you just exposed. Wrap the male threads with Teflon, and screw on the new valve. Wrap the male threads of the new valve with Teflon, and attach the flexible line to the faucet or toilet. Close the new valve, and open the water supply valve. If the new connection is not secure, you might see a leak. If so, tighten the connection. If there is no leak, open the new valve, and let the water run. Tighten the connection on that side of the valve, if necessary.

To fix a loose cabinet hinge, you will need wood glue, toothpicks, a utility knife, and a screwdriver. The screws may back out, or the hinge may “float” as you open and close the door. Remove the screws that fasten the door and its hinges to the cabinet face. Clean out the existing screw hole. Dip a toothpick into the wood glue, and push it into the hole. Leave the toothpick intact, and repeat this until you cannot push any more into the hole. You can use a slight tap from a hammer to force them deep into the hole, but do not break them off.

Wait until the glue has had a chance to harden. With a utility knife, cut the toothpicks flush with the cabinet face. Position the door, and install screws into the existing holes first. Then screw the last screw into the repaired hole. The glue inside the hole, as well as the toothpicks, may still be a bit soft, so do not be too aggressive with the screwdriver.

A loose toilet seat can be “unsettling,” but it is easy to fix. The seat is held to the bowl unit by two very large plastic screws and nuts. The head of the screw is concealed by a cover that snaps open and folds back on a hinge.

Depending on the bowl configuration, the nut may be very difficult to access with a wrench or pliers of any type. Find the tool that works best for your situation. Remove the big plastic screws entirely, and paint them with a little clear nail polish. This should keep the nut from loosening again. Reposition the seat, and reinstall the screws. Tighten the nuts until the seat is secure. Be careful not to be too aggressive, as the threads will strip easily.

The descriptions of these fixes should help you think things through and give you the confidence to overcome these and other small problems that plague your living space.

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