Easy Home Repairs: Fall

Easy Home Repairs: Fall

Find simple solutions to common dilemmas and tips on when to seek out a professional.

When odd jobs arise as the temperatures drop, tackle them yourself! In this guide, you’ll find simple solutions to common fall household chores, plus a few tips on when it’s best to seek out an expert.

Cleaning a Fireplace
DIY: Thoroughly clean your fireplace twice a year — before the first use and after the last. Remove the grate, vacuum or shovel out any ash and soot, and then scrub the sides and bottom clean with a wire brush.

Take the grate outdoors for cleaning. Scrape off caked-on grime with a wire brush, and then wipe away finer particles with a wet cloth. Rinse and wring the cloth frequently to keep it clean.

Tip: Ash acts as an insulator, keeping the coals underneath it hot. To keep your fireplace safe, vacuum and shovel out ash and soot after each use once they’ve cooled. As an extra safety precaution, wear a dust mask (available at most hardware stores) while cleaning.

Call a professional: Each spring, hire a chimney sweep for a full fireplace and chimney cleaning. Request an inspection during which the experts can identify and repair any troublesome cracks, blockages and buildup.

Refreshing Wood Furniture
DIY: To brighten up your rooms without spending a fortune, give wood furniture a fresh new look. Sand the wood by machine or by hand with 80- to 100-grit sandpaper, then wipe it clean with a damp cloth. Use wood filler or paste to fix holes, nicks and dents, then stain. Let dry completely and apply a layer of wood finish to protect the surface and intensify the stain.


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Tip: As an alternative, paint your wood furniture. After you’ve sanded the piece and wiped it clean, apply primer, then paint it your favorite color. For a sophisticated look, consider crisp, clean white. Or go bold and make a statement with high-gloss paint.

Call a professional: If your furniture is in need of a total overhaul or you’re looking to restore a family heirloom, consult the professionals at your local furniture repair shop.

Insulating Water Pipes
DIY: Prevent costly heat loss from hot water pipes by insulating them. Measure the outside diameters of your pipes — usually found in the basement, located overhead within an arm’s reach — then visit your local home improvement store and purchase pipe sleeves with inside diameters that match this measurement. Wipe your pipes clean with a rag and cleanser and let dry completely. Then cut the sleeves to length and encase the pipes. Wrap seams where sleeves meet with duct tape.

Tip: When insulating hot water pipes, keep the 8 inches of pipe nearest to your hot water heater exposed.

Call a professional: Even insulated hot water pipes can freeze and potentially burst. If this happens, turn off your heating system’s water supply immediately, then call the plumber.

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Thanks for the "refreshing furniture" tip. I have 3 pieces I love that have become dull looking. I was dreading the whole stripping ordeal. This sounds much better. I think not only my furniture will be refreshed but me, too!

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