Sunday, June 14, 2009

How to Cheat at Home Repair

Cheating can be a good thing as long as no one gets hurt; you don’t break any laws (no cheating on tests) and best of all you save time and money! Enter a great book I highly recommend to help anyone with "the joys of home ownership, although this works for apartments and condos too: How To Cheat At Home Repair, by Jeff Bredenberg. I interviewed him for my radio show on Saturday and found his tips, based on talking to dozens of repair men and women and endless others, to be handy to have!

Here’s his deal—Try and take the emotion out of any home repair that is suddenly needed. Look at whatever is broken logically (I know it may be tough but stick with me). Fact is, if you hold off on picking up that phone to call the repairman or woman that an instant, you’ll discover you may be able to do this on your own, and save time and money.

Knowing how to repair stuff is not all about the tool box and heavy duty fix-its. Granted it is a great idea to have your indoor “quick tools” and outdoor tool kits organized and accessible. This book helps you with that, but it also offers some very simple, non-conventional tricks of the trade to fix things you own but didn't realize can be fixed. Life happens and stuff gets broken. Let’s fix it without stressin’, know your limits, have your support staff, but as my dad would say “give it a go!” Here are some of my favorites:

1- Wooden Furniture Gouge- Break out the crayon box to repair a scratch on wooden furniture. Thing of the coloring and the color options! The wax seeps in and covers it up. You want to overfill the gouge and then use a credit card to scrape the leftovers.

2-Ouch...A Tear in Your Leather Couch- Not to fear! Super or Krazy Glue can fix little rips in leather, vinyl, or even cloth. To use it, first pull the edges together. Apply to the very edge on just one side of the rip NOT both sides. Hold for a few minutes until it dries.

3-Map Out Your Circuits – What, you haven’t done this? It’s a one day thing and if you don’t have a second person to help it can be a one-man job with a radio. Go room to room and test the circuit breaker. Label each lever to know which room the electricity is going to. The radio idea is helpful if you are by yourself. Plug it in and crank it up. When you turn off that circuit on the breaker, you’ll know hear which room it is.

4-Grinding Glass in the Garbage Disposal NO SO GREAT- My mom used to do this.

Don’t because it’s a myth the glass will somehow “sharpen” the blades. Better to toss a lime or lemon in the disposal.

5- The Dye-Test for the Toilet- Have you heard this? It’s a plumber’s secret to knowing if you truly have a toilet leak. Lift off the tank lid and put in a few drops of food coloring in there. Let is sit for about 15 minutes. If the coloring has made its way into the bowl, either the float that shuts off the intake is not working, or the rubber stopper in the bottom of the tank needs to be replaced.

6- Spot Busting Weapon for Carpets-According to the experienced contractor quoted in this book, the “Stain Extinguisher” made by Chem-Dry is THE BEST. I haven’t tried it but will and fyi it can be found on the internet or purchased by the carpet cleaning company.

7-Finding a Great Repair Person – You need your ‘team’ in place before problems strike as a back up plan. Get input form your neighbors and friends, go online. I recommend which is community referral based for contractors and services of all kinds. Once you find them, treat them like family because someday you'll really need them. Got your own cheating at repair techniques? Let me know!

You can find this book at


1 comment:

Nunah Mikhail said...

This blog is down to earth, hats off buds available. Ferryn