The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com

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Don't Call a Professional: 5 Easy Home Fixes | Wobbly Table Leg, Squeaky Wooden Floor Board, Stuck Window, Loose Countertop, Electrical Outlet Safety

Compiled by Vicki McClure Davidson

 

There always seem to be little annoying things in the home that need to be fixed, no matter how careful you are. Things break down, or are broken by kids or pets or your own clumsiness. Save time and money by fixing the easy things yourself.

Here are five common problems with easy fix-it instructions that you can DIY in a snap (well, maybe two snaps). You shouldn't need to call a professional for these home fixes: Wobbly Table Leg, Squeaky Wooden Floor Board, Stuck Window, Loose Countertop, Electrical Outlet Safety.

 

Wobbly Table Leg

Fixing a wobbly table leg is easy and takes very little time. | Photo Credit: Luvlymikimoto, Creative Commons, Flickr.com
Fixing a wobbly table leg is easy and takes very little time. | Photo Credit: Luvlymikimoto, Creative Commons, Flickr.com

Loose table legs are a common problem, especially if the piece of furniture has been used for many years. Bumping into the table often, moving its location frequently, or kids just being rough on the kitchen table eventually leads to a loosened—and wobbly—situation. You can fix this problem quickly and easily.

Get a wrench and turn the table upside down. Tighten the bolts in each corner. If this doesn't correct the wobble, remove the bolt from the table frame. Squeeze some Elmer's Glue® or any other white polyvinyl glue into the bolt hole (not into the hole in the leg) and push some toothpicks into the glued bolt hole. Allow the glue to dry, then reinsert the bolt and tighten.

 

Squeaky Wooden Floor Board

Wooden planked floors eventually will have a plank or two that make annoying squeaks when they are stepped upon. You can easily remedy this annoyance.

Walk around the floor until you find the culprit plank. Sprinkle baby power into the crack between it and the adjacent planks. Use your fingers to work the baby powder in. Step again on the plank, and if it still squeaks, sprinkle in a bit more powder until the squeak is gone. The powder acts as a buffer between the floorboards, keeping the planks from audibly rubbing against each other. Cheap and quick to do, and since most floors are situated so that they are nearly impossible to repair from underneath, an effective, frugal solution.

 

Stuck Window

If your window is stuck, it should be simple to get it unstuck. First, if you can, determine what is making it stick. If it's stuck because the frame is covered in paint, then you'll need to strip away the paint. This can be done using a hot air gun.

If it isn't stuck because of paint, take the edge of a putty knife or some similarly sharp, slender object and work it around the edge of the window, as much as you can to loosen up whatever might be catching. You may also go across the top of the window in there and you may end up needing to go from the inside, which may require you removing the screen or the storm window. But try this first: run a putty knife all the way around the window to see if that will remove whatever is making the window stick. Once you get it open, even just a small opening, you can really force it up, and then, to make it easier to operate in the future, gently sand the inside edge. This should remove whatever is catching the window and rubbing and causing it to stick.

For extra good measure, take a candle and rub it around on the edge. This will put wax along the edge, which will further lubricate the window so that it opens and closes smoothly.

 

Loose Countertop

A common problem in the kitchen is a loose countertop. Usually, the cause of this problem is simply loose screws that hold the countertop to the cabinet.

Open the cabinet doors and remove drawers to try to access the screws. If you can, simply tighten the screws with a screwdriver. Or, buy corner brackets and screw them into the countertop and cabinet for a tight fit.

You can also re-attach a countertop by filling the loose space between the countertop and the cabinet with silicone caulk.

 

Electrical Outlet Safety

Replacing old or missing electrical outlet plates may seem simple, but for safety's sake, be sure to always turn off the power before starting the task. | Photo Credit: B. Rosen, Creative Commons, Flickr.com
Replacing old or missing electrical outlet plates may seem simple, but for safety's sake, be sure to always turn off the power before starting the task. | Photo Credit: B. Rosen, Creative Commons, Flickr.com

The plastic cover plates that surround many electrical outlets and light switches in the home often become cracked as they age, or they just go missing. This is an easy thing to replace, but you need to be careful because you’re working near electricity. Many people take this task for granted and end up getting hurt. Always exercise caution when working with or near electricity, as it can be deadly.

First, switch off the electricity to the light switch or outlet at the main fuse box. Make sure that electricity doesn't reach the outlet or light switch by testing it. On a light switch, make sure that flipping the switch doesn’t turn on the light. Plug something into the outlet and make sure that it won’t turn on.

Once you've made sure that no electric current is flowing, remove the screws that hold the plate in place. Replace the old plate with the new one. Re-attach the plate using the screws provided with it. Finally, turn the electricity back on.

Also, the wall around a light switch can easily get scratched or grimy over the years. To protect it from wear and tear, add some durable laminate flooring around the light switch. You can personalize it with paint, adhesive paper, or decals.

Not only will you save money from these fix-its, it's a terrific feeling of accomplishment to DIY the simpler problems in your home.

 

 

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Sources:
Accurate Building Inspectors, "20 Easy Fix-Its - Home Repair Tips," (www.accuratebuilding.com/publications/family_circle/ easy_fix_circle1984.html#basement).
Homemade Simple website, "Simple Solutions for Some Common Household Troubles," (www.homemadesimple.com/en_US/).
Expert Village website, "How to Fix a Window Jam," (www.expertvillage.com/video/50_fixing-stuck-window.htm)