Free Household Management Books

Free Book: How to Maintain Your Home

 

How to Maintain Your Home

201 Great Home Maintenance Tips And Ideas

How to Maintain Your HomeHome maintenance isn't restricted to repairs. In fact, certain tasks--when performed regularly--may actually prevent things from breaking in the first place. But when things do go wrong (and it's inevitable that they do), there are things that you can try before you grab the phone to call for pro.

Maintaining your home should be fun and easy. This book helps you make it so with the best home maintenance tricks and must-know do it yourself tips

The book covers the following areas:
* Flooring and Stairs
* Furniture Care and Refinishing
* Maintaining and Repairing Windows
* Maintaining and Repairing Screens
* Maintaining and Repairing Doors
* Soundproofing
* Home Lighting and Electricity
* Plumbing
* Pest Control
Here's just a small sample of the tips included:

Refinishing Furniture
If you'd like to know how your unfinished furniture would look if it were stained, try the "wet test." Dampen a cloth with turpentine and wipe it over the surface; the moisture will bring out the grain, showing any contrasts and giving the wood the appearance it would have if stained.
Sanding concave curves will be easier if you hold the sandpaper around a piece of dowel the same diameter as the curve or smaller. Or, slit a length of rubber garden hose and wrap the paper around it, with the ends held in the slit.

To sand a furniture spindle or rung without flattening it, hold a sandpaper strip behind the part, one end in each hand, and saw the ends back and forth to buff-sand the wood.
For scraping small areas when refinishing, consider using such unconventional tools as a coin, bottle cap, golf tee, screwdriver, or your thumbnail. Even a car windshield scraper can be pressed into service.
When refinishing, a flat rubber kitchen spatula can be a useful scraper for removing paint from curved or rounded surfaces, especially since it can be used even on delicate carvings. For greater versatility, buy both wide and narrow sizes.
Many small items are useful for cleaning furniture crevices and cracks when you're refinishing. Enlist the aid of a nut pick, a plastic playing card, a plastic credit card, the broken end of an ice cream stick the tine of an old fork an orange stick, wood toothpicks, or an old spoon.
If you need an unusually shaped smoothing tool for use on wet spackling compound and other wood fillers, try whittling an ice cream stick to the required contour.
A heavy string is useful when stripping the narrow turnings of a spindle furniture leg. Gently "saw" the string back and forth to remove the finish.

To avoid gouging wood when using a putty knife to strip furniture, round the putty knife's sharp corners with a fine-toothed file. If you're working on large flat surfaces, dull a paint scraper the same way.
To smooth wood evenly and thoroughly in the refinishing process, work with successively finer sandpaper grades. Between sandings, brush off or vacuum the sanding debris; then wipe the wood clean with a tack cloth.
If wood still shows ink stains, white water marks, splotches, or traces of any previous stain or filler after stripping, try wiping them away with liquid laundry bleach. To remove black water marks or to lighten chemically darkened wood, use oxalic acid (available in paint stores and drugstores).
Remember that treatment with any bleach raises the wood grain, even when the furniture piece has been thoroughly sanded. To prevent the raised grain from affecting the finish, re-sand to the level of the wood surface after the wood dries.
To obtain a smooth, evenly finished surface on open-grained woods, treat them with a filler after staining. First apply filler in the direction of the grain; then work across the grain to fill all pores completely.
If large knots in unfinished furniture are loose, remove them, apply carpenters' glue around their edges, and replace them flush with the surface. If small knots (pin knots) are loose, remove and discard them and plug the resulting holes with plastic wood or water putty.
For the most professional patching job, use shellac sticks to fill cracks and gouges since they leave the least conspicuous patch.

It will be easier to apply paint or varnish remover to a piece of furniture if all hardware has been removed. If you label the hardware along with a sketch of the furniture, it will also be easier to reassemble it correctly.
If hardware is spotted with paint or finish, drop it into a pan filled with paint remover. Let it soak while you work on the wood, then wipe it clean.

Small blisters on a veneered surface can sometimes be flattened with heat. Here's how: Lay a sheet of smooth cardboard over the blistered area and press firmly with a medium-hot iron, moving the iron slowly and evenly until the blisters soften and flatten. Leave the cardboard in place and weight the smoothed-out area for 24 hours.
To help slow evaporation after applying a coat of paint remover-and give it more time to work-cover the surface with aluminum foil. Keep in mind, though, that pain t remover stops working in any case after about 40 minutes.
You can make a template to patch damaged veneer this way: Lay a sheet of bond paper over the damaged area and rub a soft lead pencil gently over the paper. The edges of the damaged area will be precisely indicated on the paper so you can cut a pattern.
For more durability, top an antiqued finish with a coat of semi-gloss or high-gloss varnish.
If you apply a protective shellac coating to cane chair seats they'll last longer and be easier to clean.

Upholstering Furniture
When you reupholster furniture, put fabric scraps in an envelope and staple the envelope to the underside of the newly covered piece. That way you'll have scraps for patching.
To hammer decorative furniture tacks without damaging their heads, place a wooden spool over each tack and pound on the spool.
When using ornamental tacks for upholstery, push extras into the frame in an inconspicuous spot so you have replacements if needed.
Before covering kitchen chair seats with plastic, warm the plastic with a heating pad so it will be more pliable and easier to handle.
For speed and convenience, you can cut foam rubber upholstery padding with an electric carving knife.

Maintaining and Repairing Windows
Spattered rain and dirt will easily wipe off window sills that have a protective coat of wax.
Applying a reflective vinyl coating on the inside of your windows will both protect your furniture upholstery or drapery fabric from the fading effects of strong sunlight and help keep your home cooler in the summertime.
To free a window that's been painted shut, use a scraper, knife, or spatula to cut the paint seal between the sash and the window frame. Then, working from the outside, insert the blade of a pry bar under the sash and pry gently from the corners in. Lever the bar over a block of scrap wood.
When replacing a broken sash cord, consider using a sash chain, which lasts much longer.
Soften old putty for easy removal by heating it with a soldering iron, propane torch, or hand-held hair dryer. Or, if you prefer, soften it with linseed oil and then scrape it away.
To prevent a window pane crack from spreading, score a small arc with a glass cutter just beyond the crack, curving around it. Usually the crack will travel only as far as the arc.
To remove cracked glass from a window without excessive splintering, crisscross the pane on both sides with several strips of masking tape, then rap it with a hammer. Most of the pane will be held together.
If you try to open a window and it refuses to budge, tap a hammer on a block of wood at various places on the sash. (Don't hit the sash directly with the hammer, or you'll leave dents.) The tapping may jar the sash loose.
To make dried-out putty workable again, sprinkle it with a few drops of raw linseed oil and knead it until it is soft and pliable.
Before attempting to chisel dried and hardened putty from a wooden window frame, brush raw linseed oil over the putty's surface. Let it soak in to soften the putty.
You can fill a pellet gun hole in a window pane with clear nail polish or shellac. Dab at the hole; when the application dries, dab again-and reapply until the hole is filled. The pane will appear clear. A pellet-gun hole in stained glass can be filled the same way.
When installing a new window pane, speed up the process by rolling the glazing compound between the palms of your hands to form a long string the diameter of a pencil. Lay the" string" along the frame) over the glass, and smooth it in place with a putty knife.
When glazing windows, brush the frames where the putty will lie with boiled linseed oil to prevent the wood from drinking the oils from the putty.
If you want to cover your clear bathroom window without putting up curtains, render the glass opaque by brushing on a mixture of 4 tablespoons of Epsom salts and l/z pint of stale beer.
Alternatives: Glue on stained-glass pieces, silver Mylar, or wax paper. Double-duty alternative:
Cover the panes with mirrored squares, which, as a side benefit, will make the bathroom seem larger.
If the putty knife sticks or pulls at the glazing compound when you're glazing a window, "grease" the knife by dipping the blade into linseed oil. Wipe off the excess.
When painting glazing compound, lap the paint slightly over the edge of the compound and onto the glass.

Maintaining and Repairing Screens
To keep aluminum screens from pitting, clean them outdoors (never indoors) with kerosene. Dip a rag in the kerosene and rub both sides of the mesh and the frames, then wipe off the excess. This is a particularly good rust inhibitor for older screens. (Since kerosene is highly flammable, it should always be stored in small amounts in a cool place.
To repair a small tear in a wire window screen, push the wire strands back into place with an ice pick. If the hole doesn't close completely, brush clear nail polish or shellac sparingly across the remaining opening. Let the sealer dry, and reapply until the pinhole is transparently sealed. (Be careful not to let any sealer run down the screen; immediately blot any excess.)
Clean awnings in the direction of the seam, not against it. As fabric awnings age, their seams weaken.
You can rejuvenate faded canvas awnings with a special paint available from awning dealers or paint stores.
To close a large hole in a window screen, cut a patch from a scrap piece of screening of the same type as the damaged screen. Zigzag stitch the patch into place, and then apply clear nail polish to the stitching.
If there's a clean cut or tear in a window screen, you can stitch it together. Use a long needle and a strong nylon thread or a fine wire.
Zigzag stitch across the cut, being careful not to pull the thread or wire so tight that the patch puckers. After stretching, apply clear nail polish to 69 keep the thread or wire from pulling loose.
To repair fiberglass screening, lay a fiberglass patch over the hole or tear with a piece of foil over it, and run a hot iron around the edges; the heat fuses the patch to the screen. The foil prevents the iron from touching the screen directly. Lower rolled-up awnings after a storm to allow them to dry.

Maintaining and Repairing Doors
If hinge screws on a door are loose because the screw holes have become enlarged, fill the holes with pieces of wood toothpick dipped in glue. When the glue dries, reinsert the screws. Or, wrap hinge screws with steel wool and reinsert.
If you're trying to remove a door's hinge pin and the pin won't budge, press a nail against the hinge bottom and tap upward against the nail with a hammer.
If a door binds on the knob side when the door is closed, its hinges may be misaligned. If the top of the knob side binds, try putting a cardboard shim behind the bottom hinge. If the bottom corner binds slip a cardboard shim behind the top hinge. To shim a door hinge, loosen the screws on the door frame side. Cut a shim from thin cardboard with slots to fit around the screws, slide it behind the hinge, and tighten the screws.
Children old enough to answer the door should be able to see who's there, just as you do.
Install a second peephole low enough for youngsters to use.
If a doorknob bangs against a wall, protect the wall by covering the knob with a slit-open powder puff.
For better control when lifting a door off its hinges, remove the bottom pin first. When replacing a door on its hinges, insert the top pin first.
If a door sticks at the sides, try to plane only on the hinge side. The latch side is beveled slightly and planning could damage the bevel. Plane from the center toward the ends.
To prevent people from mistaking a closed sliding glass door for an open one, apply eye-level decals-at both adult and child levels if necessary-to alert people before they walk into the pane and possibly injure themselves. You can use the same trick to mark lightweight screens.
You needn't worry about oil dripping on the floor if you quiet a squeaky hinge by lubricating its pin with petroleum jelly rather than oil.
Cardboard shields will protect the finish on a door when you clean and polish door hardware.
Fit the shields around the pertinent metal parts, holding them in place with masking tape.
If you have to remove some wood at a door's binding points, use a block plane on the top or bottom of the door and a jack plane to work on the side. Work from the ends to the center on the top or bottom edge, from the center out on the sides.
When you've fashioned a door to the exact size for hanging, bevel the latch edge backward just a bit to let it clear the jamb as it swings open and shut.
If you need to plane the bottom of a door because it scrapes the threshold or the floor, you can do so without removing the door. Place sandpaper on the threshold or floor, then move the door back and forth over this abrasive surface. Slide a newspaper or magazine under the sandpaper if it needs to be raised in order to make contact.
Before you replace a door that you have planed, seal the planed edges. If you don't, the raw wood will absorb moisture and the door will swell and stick again.
Graphite from a soft pencil can be used to lubricate a resistant door lock. Rub the key across the pencil point, and then slide it in and out of the lock several times.
If you want to replace an existing lock but you can't find a new one that will fit the existing holes, cover the old holes with a large decorative escutcheon plate.

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