Watch this video to see how to tackle these common problems around your home.
Loose Curtain Rod Wall Bracket: See how to repair a loose curtain rod by screwing the brackets directly into the wall studs or using toggle bolts in drywall.
Roof Leak: Learn how to find and fix a roof leak in a bay window where the flashing attaches to the brick wall.
Water Damaged Ceiling: Learn how to repair water damage to a drywall ceiling using joint compound.
Running Toilet: See how to replace a broken fill mechanism to stop a toilet from running.
Door Not Closing: Find out how to fix a sticking door by repairing the hinge mortise and planing down the edge of the door.
Mailbox Repair: Give an old rusty mailbox a facelift by painting and fixing the door so it closes properly.
- How to Repair a Toilet (video)
- How to Hang Anything on Anything (article)
- Repairing a Water Stained Ceiling (video)
- Loose Door Hinge Repair Tip (video)
Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re going after those nagging repairs that never seem to get done. You know the ones we mean. So stick around for five easy fixes.
You know, as homeowners, we all have those little repairs that we need to do around our home, and we never seem to find enough time to get them all taken care of. And that’s the case with our friend, homeowner, Michelle Thomas.
She tells me she’s had a few things she’s wanted to take care of. She’s not very handy. We’re going to help her out on that.
Michelle Thomas: I have lived here six years, and part of the things started to happen right after we moved in. And I’ve had some of the things fixed two and three times, but they never really get fixed.
Danny Lipford: Michelle lives here with her daughter, Somer, and her grandson, Brayden. She also watches another grandchild, Madison. So it looks like we’ll have plenty of help, if we can get Brayden to hold the hammer.
Michelle Thomas: Well, it makes me feel terrible that I don’t know how to fix the things. They seems so easy and I’ve tried to fix them, you know, the way I could. But they don’t seem to stay fixed.
Danny Lipford: And some of those repairs are, let’s say, creative.
Michelle Thomas: We have a toilet that runs and runs, and I didn’t know how to fix it. I opened up the back of it and I tried to duct tape it back together.
Danny Lipford: Although, not very effective.
Michelle Thomas: It didn’t work really well.
Danny Lipford: Among the other items on the list are a sticking bedroom door that needs some clever carpentry, some peeling paint on the kitchen ceiling, and a mailbox that won’t close properly.
But to start off slowly, we’ve decided to tackle some fallen curtain rods in the family room.
Michelle Thomas: My cat got up there and pulled those curtains down.
Danny Lipford: Is that how they fell?
Michelle Thomas: Yeah, that’s how they fell.
Danny Lipford: What, just running up the side of it?
Michelle Thomas: Yeah, just playing on the curtains and jumping in the window.
Danny Lipford: Okay, you remember how all this gets put together? Not sure I remember it. This seems really odd that it would be that, that bent like that. I guess when this end sagged, it just slowly bent that somehow, I don’t know.
Michelle Thomas: Right. I don’t know, but I might have another one.
Danny Lipford: Really? That would be something.
Michelle Thomas: Yeah.
Danny Lipford: Yeah. If not, I can probably take some pliers and bend that back out.
Michelle Thomas: You think these will fit?
Danny Lipford: You actually had them?
Michelle Thomas: Yeah, I think so.
Danny Lipford: It looks like the same one. Perfect. Boy, aren’t you organized!
When you look at how a window is framed in a wall, you can see why this isn’t an uncommon problem. The placement of the curtain rod bracket makes all the difference in the world. What happened is where that is attached, you see how it’s right on the outside? Right. And so that stud right here, your bracket is right beside it.
Michelle Thomas: Oh, okay. I see.
Danny Lipford: So, I mean, if it had been moved over probably an inch and a half, there wouldn’t have been any problem at all.
Michelle Thomas: Okay, I got it.
Danny Lipford: But…
Michelle Thomas: I actually put it there because I thought I would hit the wood. Is that right? Well, most people want to kind of spread them out.
Michelle Thomas: Right.
Danny Lipford: You know, so that the curtains, you know, are bigger and that type of thing. But with something like this, it’s pretty easy because if we… Instead of moving it back over and having holes to patch…
Michelle Thomas: Right.
Danny Lipford: …we can use something that, what we call it toggle bolt. What we’ll do is actually make a slightly larger hole.
Michelle Thomas: Mmm-hmm.
Danny Lipford: That will be like that pop inside the wall and then that will hold it up against the Sheetrock.
Michelle Thomas: Oh, okay, good!
Danny Lipford: So that way we can use the same hole, use the same brackets, other than the bent one, and…
Michelle Thomas: Okay.
Danny Lipford: …that’s all we’ll need to do. Okay, we actually found a stud back there.
As it turns out, Michelle was closer to the studs than we realized. We just have to get longer screws. Apparently those screws weren’t long enough in the first place.
Michelle Thomas: Oh, okay.
Danny Lipford: You see about this one. Yeah, I mean, we are right on the edge.
So instead of using the toggle bolts, we’re able to use some longer drywall screws and angle them back into the studs to anchor the brackets securely.
Yeah, that’s going into something there. You can put as many cats as you want to up here now. Okay, well, I think we can put them back up, and they’ll stay there then.
Michelle Thomas: Okay, great.
Danny Lipford: We’ll have one or two stray holes to spackle and paint; but for the most part, our angle screw strategy worked perfectly. While fasteners, like toggle bolts, are a great option when you have no other choice; it’s always best to secure objects on the wall into a stud if at all possible.
Besides, it’s easier. In fact, putting the curtain rods and the curtains back together the right way seems to be more involved than remounting the brackets.
All we have is a little bit of spackling and a little bit of touch-up paint. And while I’m showing Michelle how to take care of that, check out this week’s Simple Solution.
Joe Truini: Here’s a problem that every homeowner can relate to—the squeaky door. Now, there are a lot of reasons why a door hinge will squeak. But it doesn’t matter the reason. With this simple tip, you can silence any squeaky hinge.
First start with the nail or a nail set and a hammer, and tap out the hinge pin. Pull it all the way out. Then use a cotton cloth and clean the hinge pin really well—wipe off all dirt and grease.
Get it as clean as you can, and then take a piece of sandpaper—120-grit sandpaper—and buff the pin as clean as you can get it. You want it to look brand new. Remove all the dirt, grease, especially any paint that’s left behind. You get it really clean.
And then lubricate it with a little machine oil—just one bead of machine oil down the shaft of the pin—and just tap it back into the hinge.
OK, now you just test it. There you go, it’s easy as that. We’ve silenced the squeak.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re tackling five easy fixes for homeowner, Michelle Thomas.
Michelle Thomas: People just keep coming back in. Everybody is a handyman, everybody knows a handyman, but things never really get fixed.
Danny Lipford: The first was simple enough. We remounted some curtain rod brackets that just wouldn’t stay put. But this peeling paint on the ceiling may be a little more involved.
Michelle Thomas: This is the spot on the ceiling I was telling you about. Oh, yeah. I’ve had it fixed two or three times, and it gets worse every time I have it fixed.
Danny Lipford: Oh, really? There’s got to be moisture that’s getting in there. I guess probably this bay window area has a little roof that ties on to the second-story part of the house there.
Michelle Thomas: Right.
Danny Lipford: Do you ever see any water on the floor?
Michelle Thomas: No, not on the floor, just on the ceiling.
Danny Lipford: I bet something like that’s just blowing in some flashing or blowing in around something. But I got a ladder out front, I’ll see what I can find.
Michelle Thomas: Okay.
Danny Lipford: All right. Well, I can see already probably one of the problems here with water getting in this part of the house, way too much overgrown tree limbs right here. So I know I’ll get a lopper and cut all of that back, maybe we can find the problem.
Tree limbs that are too close hold moisture against the house, and their shade keeps it from drying out as quickly once the rain passes. These things should always be pruned back at least two or three feet from roof and wall surfaces.
Yeah, I can already see some problems up here. You know, Michelle had mentioned where had a number of people trying to do some work up here. You can kind of see where some of the caulking was applied to the wall. But you get a blowing rain and you get that amount of rain coming off this roof, you can see directly under how it’s just gapped. Now, it wouldn’t take much for the rain to blow under there.
I’ll tell you what I’ll do for a start is to raise this area up a little bit and go ahead and remove these nails. And I have got some great caulk in the van that I can caulk under it, push that down, re-nail it, and we’ll look around for some more places. But I’ll bet during the heavy rains the wind’s blowing right under that flashing.
The shingles stopped right here, so obviously that is exactly where that leak is.
I’m filling up all of the existing nail holes in the flashing and adding a few extra nails to really tighten it up.
You know when you have a leak like that, that’s obviously been hard to find, because a lot of people tried to find it, you’ve got to look for everything. And one of the things I noticed immediately is when the house was originally built, no caulking around the windows. And I mean, for energy efficiency, you need caulk. But also when you have a situation like this where this roof overhangs.
You only have one downspout in about 40 or 50 feet of gutter, it’s going to pour over that guttering. That leak we have is right in this area. So the flashing most likely was the problem, but while I’m here I’m going to go ahead and caulk all of this up and seal it up to the bricks on both sides.
While I’m doing that, Allen has arrived and he’s getting the scoop on the toilet repair from Michelle’s daughter, Somer.
Allen Lyle: I’ve been involved with home improvement over 25 years, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen pink duct tape used in a toilet repair along with a matching Post-it note.
Somer Thomas: Yeah, it’s kind of my mom’s thing, everything’s pink.
Allen Lyle: I like it. So tell me what’s wrong with the toilet?
Somer Thomas: Well, when you flush it, it just keeps running.
Allen Lyle: OK.
Somer Thomas: And sometimes it will stop, but usually it doesn’t. And we’ve had people try to fix it in the house.
Allen Lyle: So constantly run, or will it run and then stop and then run and stop? Or does it just run?
Somer Thomas: It just keeps running.
Allen Lyle: OK. Sounds like it could be the fill valve, we’ll look at that. And turn the water off, which it already is, good. Look over here, Somer, see this. There’s a broken piece right there.
Somer Thomas: OK.
So, more likely, it’s just a faulty fill valve. So I’ll replace this, and see if that’ll do it.
Somer Thomas: Okay.
Allen Lyle: All right. We want to get all the water out.
Somer Thomas: Never knew there was so much to a toilet.
Allen Lyle: There is. It’s that simple.
Somer Thomas: Beautiful.
Allen Lyle: Now all you’ve got to do is do this in reverse with something brand new. Sometimes, this little flapper valve gets warped like that, and it allows water to drip out there.
Usually though, that’s when you hear the toilet, like the ghost flush. Middle of the night, all of a sudden it comes on and then goes off, that’s why. I don’t think we need that. We’re just going to put in the new fill valve and overflow.
Danny Lipford: These new valve kits really do make it simple. Plug in the valve, tighten the lock nut, and reconnect the water supply.
Allen Lyle: Moment of truth. Now watch the flow, as the water gets in it’s going to start to lift this up, and that’s actually what shuts the toilet off when it reaches a specified level. This is mine, that’s your mom’s.
Somer Thomas: All right, because we can use it now.
Allen Lyle: That’s right.
Danny Lipford: While Allen and Somer have been fixing the hall bath toilet, I’ve turned my attention to the ceiling inside. First, I have to scrape off the peeling paint and joint compound.
It’s not bad at all.
I’m spreading drywall joint compound over the spot to fill in the recess. By using progressively wider knives over two separate coats of compound, I’m blending the repair into the surrounding ceiling.
Well, it’s still a little bit damp. But what do you think, looks a little bit better, huh?
Michelle Thomas: Yeah, I think it looks great.
Danny Lipford: Now, what we’ll do is let this dry overnight.
Michelle Thomas: Can I show you something else?
Danny Lipford: Yeah, sure.
Michelle Thomas: You’ll not believe.
Danny Lipford: OK.
Danny Lipford: While I check out our next project with Michelle and Brayden…
Michelle Thomas: Look at that hinge!
Danny Lipford: Oh!
…why don’t you check out this week’s Best New Products with Jodi.
Jodi Marks: You know anybody that knows me knows I love power tools, especially when manufacturers put them all in one little place where all I got to do is buy it.
Now, take a look at this. Ryobi has done just that, ta-da! This is their ultimate combo kit. And believe me, everything you need is in here. Take a look.
Let’s start out with everybody, of course, needs a drill. You’ve got that, you’ve got your impact driver. This is awesome, because it’s got the tri-beam LED lights, so it illuminates the surface and illuminates shadows.
Take a look at this, you get a recip saw. It’s got an anti-vibe, so that when you’re using it you don’t get a lot of shake and fatigue on your hands, plus you get better control of the blade.
Also, of course, you get the handy-dandy little circular saw. Oh, man, there’s also a lightweight flashlight in here—an LED light—that you can hang or just put right there on the work surface.
And, of course, you get this one, too. This is the multi-tool. It comes with all the different attachments; so that you can, say, cut door trim or also cut drywall.
The nice thing about all of this is that it operates on 18-volt lithium ion batteries. And look at this charger. This charger is so big, it can load up these batteries in less than 30 minutes and holds that charge for over a year.
I mean, what more could you ask for? As a matter of fact, I’m going to go ask for this right now.
Danny Lipford: We’re working through a list of common household repairs with homeowner, Michelle Thomas. And next up, is the ever popular sticking door, but someone has already tried a unique solution on this one.
Michelle Thomas: I want you to look at that hinge.
Danny Lipford: Oh! I’ve never seen one quite like that. And somebody did this trying to repair the door?
Michelle Thomas: Yeah, let me show you the inside. It’s even better.
Danny Lipford: Oh, no! I don’t even know how you could do that. Looks like somebody used a hatchet. Wow. Well, I mean, it almost fits. It wouldn’t require much. I’ll tell you what. I mean, first thing you think about is you’d have to replace the door.
Michelle Thomas: Right.
Danny Lipford: But I think we have something that will be able to repair it without replacing it. I’m going to go grab Allen. Allen’s still here, and see if he can’t help me fix this one for you.
Michelle Thomas: Okay. Right.
Danny Lipford: So, Allen, did you get through with all those plumbing chores? I am retiring the wrench for the day. Hey, now tell me this, have you ever worked on this house before?
Allen Lyle: No, why?
Danny Lipford: Well, I found something upstairs. It has “Allen” written all over it. Come here, let me show you this.
Allen Lyle: All right.
Danny Lipford: Okay, Allen, are you sure you didn’t hang this door? Do you see anything wrong with it?
Allen Lyle: Oh, my gosh! You thought I did this?
Danny Lipford: It’s got a strange screw.
Allen Lyle: No way.
Danny Lipford: It’s a lot worse inside, close it. Close this and check it out.
Allen Lyle: Oh, yeah, I see what you’re…
Danny Lipford: Keep looking.
Allen Lyle: Holy cow! Who in the world?
Danny Lipford: I don’t know, I don’t know, but I got an idea how we might be able to fix it. And let’s put this drop cloth down.
Allen Lyle: All right.
Danny Lipford: And then let’s see if we can take it off and…
Allen Lyle: It’s not even in the mortise joint.
Danny Lipford: I know.
Allen Lyle: Good grief!
Danny Lipford: Might take this off and there’d be like bubble gum. Just barely, barely holding on.
Allen Lyle: All right. Let’s see here.
Danny Lipford: Got it? All right. Lay that on down.
Allen Lyle: Oh, my, look at how much they chewed out of this. It’s pretty deep, and I don’t know, we’d have to fill that in to get some thickness out there. You thinking what I’m thinking?
Allen Lyle: I’m thinking auto body filler.
Danny Lipford: I think it would work well. Well, let’s give it a try.
Allen Lyle: OK.
Danny Lipford: It’s already late in this day, so the door will have to wait for morning. After a little sanding and painting, to complete my ceiling repair down in the kitchen, Allen and I can get back to the broken bedroom door.
We decided to fill part of the void in the hinge mortise with wood shims before applying the auto body filler.
And then drop that in, see what you think. There you go. All right, I believe we’re ready to glue this in.
While the wood glue dries, Allen mixes up some auto body filler we’re using it to fill some oversized screw holes left in the door jamb where I had to remove several wallboard anchors. On the door itself, we’re filling the voids on the surface and edges to create a hard, sandable surface. Once that’s done, we prime it…
Allen Lyle: You want to spray that over there.
Danny Lipford: …reinstall the hinges. The hinges on the jamb get three-inch screws so that we can cinch it up as we try to correct the sticking problem that started this craziness. That’s fairly level, but you can see it rocking…
Allen Lyle: Yeah, you got a rock in there.
Danny Lipford: You see it rocking in there? You brought that two-by-four up here anyway, didn’t you? A little bit of caulking will have to do there.
Allen Lyle: OK.
Danny Lipford: A few more three-inch screws helps draw that jamb in at the center. And a little belt sanding gives us that extra breathing room we need on the opposite side.
All right. Well, let’s see. You ready?
Allen Lyle: Yeah.
Danny Lipford: Look at that! Yeah, that worked out great. OK. Well, I got to go make sure I show this to Michelle.
While I’m doing that, Allen is tackling our final project with Michelle’s granddaughter, Madison.
Allen Lyle: Okay, Madison, so what’s wrong with the mailbox?
Madison Faust: Every time I come out here to get the mail, it won’t close.
Allen Lyle: It won’t close. Ah, OK. Looks like someone has tried to work on this before, haven’t they?
Madison Faust: Mmm-hmm.
Allen Lyle: Yeah, okay. Well, I see what the problem is. If you don’t mind, will you help me? We can fix this real fast.
Madison Faust: Sure.
Allen Lyle: OK. I’ll go get some tools and we’ll be ready.
Danny Lipford: Madison’s a little shy, but she’s a great helper. You know what they did wrong when they tried to fix it?
Madison Faust: No.
Allen Lyle: They put the door on the wrong side. The door is supposed to be on the outside instead of on the inside. That’s the only problem with this. I’m going to take everything off because we’re going to paint it, too, and make it look nicer. How’s that? What’s nice is this is a rust proofing paint, too, so it’ll keep that rust from coming back.
OK. So all we have to do now is we’re going to put everything back together, and we’re done.
Danny Lipford: Okay, Michelle, I’d like just for you to tell me whether or not this works any better than it did before. Same door. Give it a try.
Michelle Thomas: My gosh, that’s much better! It works now. Yeah, it took a little bit…
Michelle Thomas: I have to be careful next time so I don’t shut it too hard.
Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah. You’ll end up slamming it shut.
Mike asks, “How do I keep a wooden gate from sagging?”
You know, I think sooner or later every wooden gate’s going to sag a little bit, because it has a lot going against it with the weather as well as gravity. Sooner or later it’s going to sag just a little bit.
Lot of ways to correct that problem, but I’ll tell you the easiest I found is to drop by the home center and pick up a simple, little hardware kit called an Anti-Sag Gate Kit.
Basically, it’s a couple of little corner pieces—one attaches to the upper part of the hinge side, and the other to the lower side—with a steel cable that runs between it. A turnbuckle and a few little clamps, and you’re able to actually adjust the gate and raise it back up to its original level.
And then it should stabilize it that way, because over the years, if it does start sagging at all, then you’re able just to tighten the turnbuckle up a little bit more. And it works on a small gate like this, as well as one as large as six-foot tall.
Danny Lipford: Like most homeowners, Michelle Thomas had a few nagging repairs that needed some attention. With a little time, the right tools, and a little know how, we’ve helped her clear that list.
Boy, I tell you, that’s a lot of fun when you can spend a couple of days with a family like this to help them with some of those aggravating problems they have with their home.
Hey, thanks so much for being with us this week. I’m Danny Lipford, hope to see you next week right here on Today’s Homeowner.
Allen Lyle: Think about it, if you sat this way, you have a desk, and you get twice the business done.