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Simple Home Repairs

Nagging little problems are the bane of every homeowner's existence, and the professionals charge big bucks for repairs. Here are some fast fixes you can do yourself.

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Toilet trouble. If your toilet seems to be flushing a little listlessly, don't blame the water pressure. Ninety percent of the time, the holes under the rim are the problem. Or, more accurately, the calcium and sediment clogging the holes are the problem. Get a small brush with stiff bristles and clean them out. The action of the toilet will be much better.

Leaky toilets are a problem, especially if you have a septic tank. All that extra water can cause the septic tank to fill up too quickly. To find and fix those leaks, first check the ball float, which controls the water level in the tank. If it lets the water rise too high, it will start to flow into the overflow pipe and right out the drain. Adjust the arm for the ball float by tightening the screw at the top of the arm mechanism. Or bend the arm downward, which will stop the water flow sooner after a flush.

The other most likely source of a leak is the flapper. Go to the hardware store, buy a new flapper for less than $5.00, pop the old one off and put the new one on. Before you take that last step, though, clean around the area to remove any sediment that might keep the flapper from sealing properly.

Grungy grout. Now that the toilet is working fine, it's time to fix the tile. If you want to replace the grout, you have two options: Dig it out by hand or use a grout-removal attachment on a rotary tool. The first option will give you forearms like Popeye's; the second will give you some free time. You can get all the grout out of a shower in just a couple of hours. Then you're ready to replace it, maybe with a color-coordinated grout that can give the bathroom a whole new look.

Annoying doors. Squeaky or sticky doors can drive you crazy, but it's easy to fix them, too, using a rotary tool with a different attachment. With the Dremel XPR, you can shave off the edge of the door that's sticking. (If you're not sure exactly where that part might be, rub the inside of the door casing with colored chalk, then close the door. When you open it again, you'll see chalk on the part of the door that made contact with the frame.)

To get rid of a squeak, just rub some petroleum jelly on the hinges. It's not as messy as oil, it works just as well and you probably have it on hand.

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