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Broke It, Bent It, Tried To Fix It: Home Improvements

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Anyone has advice on what to look for? I'm looking to buy fake grass for a big balcony that is super sunny but also exposed to rain/snow. Any help would be hugely appreciated :)

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This may be an odd question, but here goes: What advice does anyone have on whether to do a temporary fix or replace the molding around a window? The basic problem is that my daughter has two puppies, one 9 months old and one 6 months old; one is a German shepherd/boxer mix and the other is a Lab. When they were going through their teething stage, they would gnaw on the corners of the bottom molding for a few windows. (Not to mention the couch, love seat, and coffee table, all of which are now damaged, but that's a different decision). The gnawed corners are now pretty rough but at the same time, it's a relatively small area out of the molding as a whole. I am seriously considering just getting some wood putty to smooth out the corners and painting it, at least as a temporary solution, versus replacing the molding completely. My reasoning is that until the dogs are a bit older, it probably doesn't make much sense to replace the molding entirely, only to have to replace it again if they damage it again. I can tell the 9-month old puppy is settling down on chewing on inappropriate things, but the 6-month-old still chews on many things.  So I'm guessing that a temporary fix is okay until both animals are past the stage of chewing on anything they can reach. Why they seem to love chewing on wood so  much is beyond me, but I'm not a dog whisperer.

Any advice? Once I do get around to replacing the molding, is that something that I could do myself (I'm okay with basic repairs) or would it make more sense to hire someone to come in and do it, if there are special tools/skills/etc. needed for that type of repair?

Edited by BookWoman56

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All you need to know is how to use a miter saw.  Unless you're someone whose brain just doesn't compute the angles, or don't have/can't rent a miter saw, it's an easy job - measure, cut, nail, fill, sand, prime, paint, done.

For now, I'd do the wood putty fix.  Replace later when you're confident the dogs won't eat your not-so-hard work.

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@BookWoman56, I personally wouldn't do a darn thing to it until the puppies are older and out of the chewing stage. Last week's episode of This Old House had a segment on replacing molding around a window. I definitely think you could do it. I am sure there are many videos out there on how to do it, but basically, you score around the molding with your utility knife, then using a hammer and the flat end of a mini crowbar or other similar implement, slowly inch by inch tap down to pry the molding off, being careful to not damage the drywall. Then attach your new molding, caulk the wall side and paint. Again, I'd recommend that you watch a video to decide for yourself. I've tried to fix molding with putty and I do not have a touch for that sort of thing. 

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15 minutes ago, Bastet said:

All you need to know is how to use a miter saw.  Unless you're someone whose brain just doesn't compute the angles, or don't have/can't rent a miter saw, it's an easy job - measure, cut, nail, fill, sand, prime, paint, done.

For now, I'd do the wood putty fix.  Replace later when you're confident the dogs won't eat your not-so-hard work.

And to add to @Bastet's remarks, for a small job, a miter box (not a power saw) is a very affordable idea. I bought one that came with a saw and it has the degrees marked on it (45 degrees, etc.) I used that thing when I installed my baseboards which was a rather large job. But I loved using it! 

ETA: you might practice by using a few pieces of scrap trim. 

Edited by Spunkygal

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1 minute ago, Spunkygal said:

And to add to @Bastet's remarks, for a small job, a miter box (not a power saw) is a very affordable idea. I bought one that came with a saw and it has the degrees marked on it (45 degrees, etc.) I used that thing when I installed my baseboards which was a rather large job. But I loved using it! 

Yes, I really meant either/or - whether it's a power miter saw or miter box with hand saw, if you can lay your hands on one, you can do the job.  And, hey, with the miter box you get a little workout for your arm at the same time. 

10 minutes ago, Spunkygal said:

I've tried to fix molding with putty and I do not have a touch for that sort of thing. 

I liked playing with clay as a child; maybe that's why I like it?  But, depending on the extent of the damage, especially at a corner, it may not be worth messing with.  I'd get twitchy looking at chewed up wood, so when I hit this "They seem to be done, but I'm not sure" stage of chewing, I'd go for the temporary fix just so I wouldn't react every time I walked in the room.  But if that wasn't an issue and/or the damage was such it would take me more time to repair it (because that, too, is several steps) than replace it, I'd just wait until I was confident it would be left alone, and replace then.

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48 minutes ago, Bastet said:

All you need to know is how to use a miter saw.  Unless you're someone whose brain just doesn't compute the angles, or don't have/can't rent a miter saw, it's an easy job - measure, cut, nail, fill, sand, prime, paint, done.

For now, I'd do the wood putty fix.  Replace later when you're confident the dogs won't eat your not-so-hard work.

Thanks, I've used a miter saw and box (thanks, @Spunkygal) before; for this repair and a few other small projects, I need to go get one fairly soon. I have one room where we ripped off all the floor molding to install new flooring and I want to replace that molding with something I like better. For the window molding, I may hold off a little longer on doing even a temporary fix, as it occurred to me the younger puppy might try to eat the wood putty as well.

I've been in the house now for 6 months, and I had told myself not to make any big decisions on paint colors and so forth until now, so my weekend project is painting the game room and replacing the  carpet in there with a laminate flooring. My daughter is about halfway through putting in new flooring in her bedroom. Essentially, we both hate carpet and so while much of the house has ceramic tile, the bedrooms, game room, and upstairs hall are all carpeted. So, I'm doing the game room now with an idea of moving my office from the downstairs designated office to the game room, which is upstairs close to my bedroom, and which is larger although without a door. However, 75% of the time during working hours I'm at home alone, so no real need for the door.  If I do that, we will convert my former downstairs office, which does have a door, into a massage room where my daughter can have an occasional client come in. Long story short, my daughter got her massage license while trying to figure out what she wanted to do in terms of college, and now that she's in college, she is working less than 10 hours a week as a tutor in the math lab, but the pay is only around $10/hour. She figures since she is licensed as a massage therapist, it wouldn't hurt to do one or two clients at week at a much higher hourly rate, to give her some extra income. But overall, I'm just at that point where I'm now ready to prioritize various small DIY projects and tackle them one at a time. Because the house is new, it's not really repairs (except for the damage done by the dogs) but just a few changes in flooring, painting a few rooms, etc. 

Edited by BookWoman56

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I'm with @Spunkygal - leave it until you are absolutely certain dog teething is well past.  I wouldn't even put wood putty over it as that would probably be an irresistible temptation to them and they would probably eat it (at least a lab would).  A co-worker I used to have got two lab puppies but they were home alone all day and so crated or left in a small room.  Eventually they ate a significant chunk of drywall.  In my experience, labs have puppy brain for about 5 years, so teething might not be the only culprit here.

I've got to find a way to fix the dog teething damage to my stairwell post.  He likes to lay on the stair landing because it is a nice central location where he can keep an eye on the front door, back door, anyone on the first floor and listen to who is moving around upstairs.  Eventually his itchy puppy teeth decided it would be good to gnaw on the post.

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7 hours ago, BookWoman56 said:

 I may hold off a little longer on doing even a temporary fix, as it occurred to me the younger puppy might try to eat the wood putty as well.

This was my first thought. What would wood putty do to a dog's gut? Could it stop things up?

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The PSU on one my HP micro servers died over the weekend. Which basically brought my VM environment down with it. So had to order a replacement with a guaranteed overnight delivery.

It arrived this morning, but before I started replacing old with new, I labelled up and took photos of the cabling connections between the server's motherboard and the PSU.  The installation instructions that came with the PSU wasn't particularly clear, and unplugging all the motherboard connections from the PSU was a bit of a trial. However, after about 40 minutes the new PSU was in place, and all requisite cables plugged back in. However, I removed my existing hard drives and replaced it with an old drive with an OS already installed. Also swapped out the 64Gb of RAM chips with some old 8Gb ones. (Doing this swap-out is quite important when it comes to some replacement power supplies. If they're not of the exact voltage etc. they could blow the motherboard and/or components, including drives and DIMMS)

Anyway, powered up the server and it booted fine. Soak tested it for about 6 hours with a few reboots thrown in. All good! So powered off and refitted original drives and DIMMS and powered up again. Everything good thus far :) 

Edited by Zola
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I need a way to keep my windows open while preventing my kitties from climbing on the screens and potentially popping them out. I'm on the third floor so that would be extra extra bad.

I have single hung windows (they slide up from the bottom) and I rent so I can't install anything permanent. 

Ideas?

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I recently rearranged some furniture so that my L-shaped computer desk ended up with one side firmly against a wall. Inspiration struck last week when the winter temperatures inside my bedroom (poorly insulated house, heated by a wood stove in the living room) provided some inspiration that draws on the anime shows I've watched over the years: a kotatsu desk! I've managed to do a quick & dirty (& cheap) version of the project.

One side of the "L" is snugly against the wall, the other side has a tablecloth hanging down to the floor on the outside. On the inside, the tablecloth and a towel close off everything else except the space where my legs go. So much for trapping heat.

For heat I've got my electric radiator-style heater under the desk for really cold days, and a home-made vegetable oil candle sitting on an old PC case for regular cold days.

My thermometer shows that I get about a 10 degree temperature difference under my desk now with just the candle burning. That's enough so that a lap blanket is enough to keep my legs toasty warm. I can make it as warm as I need with the electric heater, but that's expensive. I expect that I'd get better results with blankets instead of a towel and a cheap tablecloth, but that's a project for another time.

BTW: Do-it-yourself oil candles are really easy to make. You can find instructions for them online. The quickest version is just a metal jar lid (like from a mason jar) with a hole punched in the middle of it sitting in a shallow puddle of vegetable oil in a dish, with a wick made from cotton string through the hole and sitting in the oil.

Edited by Sandman87
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The toilet in the kids' bathroom started doing the ghost running* every 15 - 20 minutes a few days ago.  Before that it would only happen once in awhile.  So I looked up how to fix it last night (most common cause is the flapper valve) and decided I would try replacing it myself today.  The internet swore it was ridiculously easy and any fool could do it, but I've fallen for that before and landed smack dab in the middle of an ever growing repair.

Shortly after convincing myself that I could fix it, I went upstairs to get ready for bed.  And then the master bath toilet started doing the ghost running.  Tried to adjust the flapper to make sure it was sealing properly but could not get it to stop.  I eventually just turned off the water to the tank.  When I checked the water level this morning, the tank had completely drained.

So I was having lunch with my brother and we went to Home Depot after to get new flappers.  Bought the 3 pack since I needed 2 immediately and I have a guest half bath downstairs and figured that one was probably going to go soon too.

I successfully replaced the one in the master bath and walked my son through the basics (from my vast wealth of experience) and had him replace the one in the kids' bathroom.  So far everything seems to be doing fine!

*ghost running - not sure if it is the right term, but a slow leak of water from the tank that eventually triggers the tank to refill a bit to get back to the float valve (think that is the term) level.

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When my next-door neighbors were having new flooring put in, I was standing in their backyard next to the toilet they'd removed from the back bathroom.  We chuckled about standing around a toilet chatting, and my neighbor mentioned that they might as well get a new one while they were needing to reinstall anyway, because it runs for a few seconds intermittently just like yours (and like happens a good bit; they degrade over time, and a slow leak develops).  I was gobsmacked, but nicely explained that toilets have very few parts, and it's easy to replace one - NOT the whole toilet - when a problem develops, and all they needed in this instance was a new flapper valve.  They were going to go out and buy a new toilet instead of just the cheap part they needed!

Edited by Bastet

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Yeah, replacing an entire toilet was a little extreme! I will admit that I’m just waiting for the one in the kids bathroom to start leaking to motivate me to replace it. It’s the $25 builders model and really should be replaced with a good one. But as long as it works, I’m ignoring it. 

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@Bastet, When my cousin and her hubby were first married, she attempted to cook, which she had never done before. She used the expensive pots and pans that were wedding gifts. Well, she burned whatever she was cooking and instead of trying to scrub the pans clean, she threw them away. Of course we were all gobsmacked. I said I wish I had known about it when it happened. I would have gotten them out of the trash and kept them. They were much nicer than I had at the time. She is now 71 and has never cooked a real meal. If they don't go out, they have sandwiches, canned soup or something from the deli. 

On topic: it is so satisfying to be able to do DIY repairs and save money. I've added sprinkler head repair to my repertoire. And a few weeks ago I replaced one of the bathroom faucets. It took me longer than a plumber would take but I saved at least $150. This is the second one I've replaced. My dad would be so proud. 

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On ‎8‎/‎18‎/‎2018 at 9:23 AM, Spunkygal said:

On topic: it is so satisfying to be able to do DIY repairs and save money. I've added sprinkler head repair to my repertoire. And a few weeks ago I replaced one of the bathroom faucets. It took me longer than a plumber would take but I saved at least $150. This is the second one I've replaced. My dad would be so proud. 

This made me rethink my plan from yesterday.  Dishwasher doesn't power up.  If flipping breaker doesn't work, then I'm buying a new one.  Too much trouble to DIY or even get a repair guy.  What if I end up on that vicious cycle of the repair costs as much as a new one?  But you made me decide to watch two youtube videos.  First one convinced me I'd rather pay than mess with it. Too much diagnostic stuff I don't own.  The second one said to check to see if something was wrong with the latch.  Appearance of being closed doesn't actually mean it made the electrical connection I guess.  Futzed with it for a couple minutes and its working.

Lesson here is even if the cost to DIY time ratio is in favor of  cost, at least watch a youtube video or two. Saved me $500-600 dollars.

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Years ago, the Internet was around, but long before Youtube videos and such, the washing machine wouldn't run.  I poked at it a bit, and finally found a troubleshooting guide online.  It said to check the door switch.  I got out my multimeter and found there wasn't electrical continuity through the switch when it was closed.  Called a local appliance repair place, $10 later I had a new switch, and the washer continued to work for years.

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3 hours ago, Moose135 said:

Called a local appliance repair place, $10 later I had a new switch, and the washer continued to work for years.

They're up to about $50 now, or at least as of a few years ago when mine went out.  I had a washer full of water and wet clothes on a Friday evening, with no agitation.  Figuring it was the lid switch, I grabbed my multimeter to confirm, called the (fantastic) parts department manager at the local appliance repair shop, learned he indeed had the part and would wait for me even though he was minutes away from closing, ran and got it, and replaced the old switch - voila, clean clothes. 

It's one of the few remaining brick and mortar places to get parts, and I was thankful for it.  Leaving the clothes to marinate in soapy water for several days while I waited for an online order to arrive would have been a first-world problem, yes, but it was very nice to just go grab the part and be done that same evening.

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Statements like "I grabbed my multimeter" are probably why I'm always "I called my repair guy".  I probably should go buy one.

Enough procrastinating.  Getting new windows in two days and have a ton of stuff to take down and clean and trim.

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9 minutes ago, ParadoxLost said:

Statements like "I grabbed my multimeter" are probably why I'm always "I called my repair guy".  I probably should go buy one.

Enough procrastinating.  Getting new windows in two days and have a ton of stuff to take down and clean and trim.

While you’re getting a multimeter, go ahead and pick up a basin wrench for plumbing jobs and maybe a miter box (mine came with a saw) for trim jobs. Invaluable items which also will save you some bucks. 

Later this year when I have a spare week to do it (probably week of Thanksgiving), I am stripping and painting my master bath cabinets and painting the walls. Saw a great YT on the cabinet part and in it, the guy recommended a few products which arrived today from Amazon. If they turn out to be as great as he suggests, I’ll report back.

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If you plan to paint even one room and can afford it, a scaffold is a godsend -- I bought one at Home Depot for less than $150 and it folds up for convenient storage. Especially if you are like me and have iffy knees* -- being able to walk around instead of constantly fearing falling off a ladder did wonders for my confidence.

*For some reason, I'm fine climbing up, it's going back down that causes my knees to give out, which is why I no longer hop down from the back of a pickup.

Edited by forumfish
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One piece of good advice when it comes to buying a cable that connects something to something else, always label it at both ends so that you know what its connecting!

Most people probably have a shedload of plugs, power cables, monitor cables, USB cables, all bunched together behind a desk or TV stand. So much so that it becomes really difficult to figure what is cable is plugged into what.

So just label up the cables and plugs with something like "TV", "Printer" "Blu Ray" and do it as soon as you can; less hassle down the road, and less chance of pulling the wrong plug/cable too.

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3 hours ago, Zola said:

So just label up the cables and plugs with something like "TV", "Printer" "Blu Ray" and do it as soon as you can; less hassle down the road, and less chance of pulling the wrong plug/cable too.

I've done that for so long - because I saw my parents do it - with a piece of folded over masking tape (that I write on both sides of) that I have to laugh whenever I see advertised/sold the various gizmos now made specifically for the purpose of identifying cords and cables.  I still just use tape, but maybe when I completely overhaul the main entertainment center in a few years, I'll top it off with fancy color-coded identifiers.

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6 hours ago, Bastet said:

I've done that for so long - because I saw my parents do it - with a piece of folded over masking tape (that I write on both sides of) that I have to laugh whenever I see advertised/sold the various gizmos now made specifically for the purpose of identifying cords and cables.  I still just use tape, but maybe when I completely overhaul the main entertainment center in a few years, I'll top it off with fancy color-coded identifiers.

Tape is a good idea and thanks to Pinterest, I’ve started using those flat plastic tabs used to close packages of buns, English muffins, various breads. There’s plenty of room to write the name of the device on the tab. I now use my extra tabs at the elementary school where I volunteer and label the cords for the ladies in the office and library.

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