How to Fix Everything For Dummies book cover

How to Fix Everything For Dummies

By: Gary Hedstrom and Peg Hedstrom Published: 04-29-2005

If I had a hammer: The fun and easy way for do-it-yourselfers to repair home appliances and furniture 

For anyone who's ever been frustrated by a repair shop rip-off or just wanted to join thousands of others in the DIY craze, How to Fix Everything For Dummies is a no-nonsense guide showing you how to troubleshoot and fix a wide range of furniture (with wobbly legs, for example) and household appliances — vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, garbage disposals, toasters, blenders, radios, televisions, and even computers and printers.  

Packed with step-by-step illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions, it's a must-have money-saver for the half of all homeowners who undertake Do-It-Yourself (DIY) home projects. This hands-on, DIY manual shows you not only how to fix faulty appliances but also tend to all those irritating repairs that cost more to have someone else fix than the item is worth. How to Fix Everything For Dummies is for you if you  

  • Are a homeowner or an apartment dweller  

  • Want to fix things around the house but aren’t sure where to start 

  • Have some experience but need guidance on tackling more and larger repairs 

  • May be frustrated about throwing things away because you don’t know where to go to repair them 

  • Don’t want to pay for service calls when the problem is minor  

Featuring clear, concise directions, How to Fix Everything For Dummies also covers the proper tools and materials to get the job done correctly without breaking the bank and important safety measures to take so you don’t hurt yourself. You’ll learn how to  

  • Fix creaky stairs 

  • Patch basement floors 

  • Restore damaged carpets 

  • Correct drywall and repair plaster walls 

  • Fix door and cabinet hardware problems 

  • Rewire fixtures 

  • Get doorbells to work 

  • Fix garage door openers 

  • Unclog drains and fix leaky pipes 

  • Mend wooden fences and decks 

  • Repair minor cracks in the concrete driveway or pool 

  • And a whole lot more 

Additionally, this friendly guide is written in plain English and includes a list of home repairs you should not take on yourself but should leave for the professionals and tips on how to hire one. Grab your copy of How to Fix Everything For Dummies, grab your screwdriver and wrench, and get to work! 

Articles From How to Fix Everything For Dummies

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87 results
87 results
How to Fix Everything For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 04-20-2022

It's a good idea to be prepared for things going wrong in your home, whether it's something relatively simple that you can fix yourself, or a more complex problem requiring a qualified professional. Following is advice for both situations. First, we list some non-tool items you'll want to have around for DIY home repair. We also suggest questions you should ask before hiring a professional to make a repair or renovation in your home.

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How to Stop Refrigerator Water Leaks

Article / Updated 11-08-2021

When a refrigerator is leaking water, it needs to be addressed immediately. But before you can fix it, you'll need to know why it's happening. There are many causes for a leaking refrigerator. One of the most common problems is that the water isn't able to reach the drain because the refrigerator hasn't been leveled correctly. Another common problem is a clogged defrost drain. For these cases, any homeowner can implement a DIY fix and stop the leaking pretty easily. Other reasons for a leaking refrigerator may include improper installation (for example, the water filter) or damaged equipment, such as a cracked drain pan. These issues may require part replacement and professional help. Leveling the refrigerator When you see water under a refrigerator, check the front legs. Water (from condensation) is supposed to run from inside the refrigerator to a drain hole, and then into a drip pan underneath, where it evaporates. If the refrigerator is completely level or tipped slightly forward, the water may not be able to flow into the drain. All you have to do to get it working is to adjust the front legs so the refrigerator tips back slightly. (Incidentally, that tilt also makes the door swing closed after you turn away from the refrigerator.) Here’s how to level your refrigerator to prevent it from leaking water: Have a helper tip the fridge slightly back so you can get your hand under it. Unscrew the front legs a couple of turns to raise them. (Don’t take them off, though.) Let the refrigerator back down. Use a level on the front edge of the refrigerator to make sure the legs are even. Partially open the door and walk away. It should close by itself now. Tip the refrigerator only slightly because it is designed to be (almost) level, and tilting it too much might cause a problem somewhere else. If you can’t adjust the legs, put a shim under each of them, about 1/8 inch thick at the wide edge. Cleaning the drain hole If adjusting the legs doesn’t stop water from leaking, then you have to clear the drain hole. It gets clogged with food particles that can prevent water from being drained, leading to an overflow and leakage. Follow these steps to clear your refrigerator's drain hole: Locate the drain tubes at the rear of the refrigerator or freezer. Push a small plastic tube or a pipe cleaner through the tubes. Pour a mild solution of soapy water and ammonia down the drain tube to kill bacteria. If you have a turkey baster or syringe, use it to squeeze water into the hole. Check the drain pan under the refrigerator, on the left side, by removing the front grill. If the soapy water hasn’t drained into it, you still have a problem. Go to Step 6. Working inside the refrigerator, push the tube or pipe cleaner into and through the drain tube. Flush the hole with water again. You should now find water in the pan. If you do, don’t worry; it evaporates. You can also have water problems if you keep the refrigerator in an unheated garage, porch, or basement. As heat from the motor flows across the cold exterior, it condenses and water forms, dripping onto the floor. All you need to do is put a space heater nearby, and if there’s no more water, you know condensation’s the problem. Solve the problem permanently by moving the refrigerator to a warmer place.

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How to Unclog a Toilet with a Plunger

Step by Step / Updated 10-26-2021

Unclogging a toilet with a plunger usually creates enough suction to free the clog. Knowing how to use a plunger to unclog a toilet can preclude the mess of using a plumber's snake or the expense of calling a plumber. Water that doesn’t swirl; a flush that only trickles into the drain; and water that backs up instead of flushing out are signs of clogged toilets. You may not want to, but you can fix it. Get out your plunger, put on some rubber gloves, and hope for the best.

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How to Test a Circuit Breaker with a Voltage Tester

Step by Step / Updated 04-17-2017

Knowing how to test a circuit breaker can save on electricians’ fees. Test the circuit breaker with a voltage tester to see if it’s faulty. The voltage tester will indicate if the breaker is getting power. If the breaker is faulty, you'll need to replace it. Safety first! You have to keep the electrical current on when you use the volt tester, so be cautious. Always wear rubber shoes or stand on a rubber mat when working on a control panel. Make sure the floor or earth underneath the panel is dry —not damp or wet. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity, and you don’t want to become part of the circuit. Wear safety goggles in case of flying sparks.

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How to Remove Water Stains from Wood Furniture

Article / Updated 04-14-2017

You don’t have to panic when a steaming cup of coffee, sloshed water, or some other liquid leaves a mark on your wood furniture. Most of the time, getting the piece back to its original condition is fairly easy. The first thing you have to do is determine how deep the damage is. You can tell that by the color of the stain or water mark. Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/dalton00 Stains and marks made by liquid or steam are usually white or light-colored. That means that they haven’t penetrated much more deeply than through the waxed or polished surface. When the stain is dark, however, it indicates that the liquid has penetrated through the finish on the wood and possibly through to the wood itself. If this is the case, you have more of a fix on your hands. Here are some ways to treat light-colored stains. Start with the first, and if it doesn’t work, then try the next step: Rub the area with an oily furniture polish, mayonnaise, or petroleum jelly. The goal is to displace the water mark with the oil. If the stain disappears, good; skip to Step 6. If the stain is still there, try Step 2. Put a little toothpaste on a wet cloth and rub the stain gently until the spot disappears. Toothpaste sometimes contains a mild abrasive that will help get rid of the stain. If toothpaste does the job, skip to Step 6. If the stain is still there, mix equal amounts of baking soda and toothpaste together to make a slightly stronger, yet still mild, abrasive and rub that mixture on the stain. Depending on the size of the stain, 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of each should do the trick. Apply a little more pressure than you did in Step 2. If the stain is gone, go to Step 6; otherwise, proceed with Steps 4 and 5 for stubborn water marks. Thoroughly clean the area. Dip a soft cloth — an old T-shirt will do — into a mild solvent such as mineral spirits or paint thinner (odorless). Squeeze excess moisture from the cloth, and then rub gently until the stain is gone. To make sure you won’t harm the surface, pretest the solvent on a finished underside of the furniture first. If the solvent doesn’t dissolve your finish, then it’s safe to work on the stain itself. If it does dissolve, don't use it. After the water mark is gone, wax your table, chest, or chair. Use a thin layer of paste wax and a clean, soft cloth. Although paste wax takes a little more work to apply, it leaves a nicer, longer-lasting finish than a liquid or cream wax. After the paste wax thoroughly dries — give it half an hour — buff the piece with another soft, clean cloth until you have a rich, smooth patina. You’ll love how it looks.

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How to Fix Loose Ceramic Floor Tiles

Step by Step / Updated 04-14-2017

Fix a loose ceramic floor tile before the tile breaks. Loose floor tiles occur if the original adhesive doesn't seal properly or if the grout is chipped or uneven, allowing moisture to get under the tile. Securing loose ceramic or clay tiles before they break will save time and money down the road. If a tile isn’t broken or cracked, you’re in good shape for fixing the floor. If you wait too long, loose ceramic or clay tiles will either break or pop off entirely and get lost. Either way, you're looking at more work.

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How to Fix a Squeaky Floor That’s Carpeted

Step by Step / Updated 04-13-2017

Fixing a squeaky floor that’s carpeted can be challenging. To fix a squeaky carpeted floor, you might have to try a few times until you get the squeak to stop. Floors get squeaky when wood dries out (either finished wood or a wooden subfloor). This can cause subfloor nails to pop loose and the subfloor to separate from the floor joist. To stop the squeak you need to locate the problem and try to get a screw to make its way through your finished floor, the subfloor, and the floor joist.

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How to Fix Scratches In Hardwood Floors

Step by Step / Updated 04-12-2017

Fixing scratched hardwood floors is essential for any homeowner lucky enough to have wood floors. Scratches on hardwood floors mar their beauty, but fixing scratches is easy. You can make your floor look as good as new.

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How to Fix Ripped or Torn Carpet

Step by Step / Updated 03-06-2017

Fixing a ripped or torn carpet is essential because loose carpet tears easily. Fixing a ripped carpet while the tear is small can prevent accidents and keep the damage from spreading. Sharp objects can fall, cutting carpets, but most often, tears and rips occur along the seamed edges or at the edges of badly worn carpeting.

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How to Fix Damaged Pile Carpet

Step by Step / Updated 02-16-2017

Patching a pile carpet that’s damaged or stained can renew its look. Fixing damaged pile carpet with a patch is cheaper than replacing a whole carpet. Just cut out the damaged or stained spot and add a section of matching carpet. When patching a pile carpet, make sure that the nap in your patch runs in the same direction as the rest of the carpet or it’ll stick out like a sore thumb.

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