Last month we talked about moving your holiday fun outside. Regardless of where the festivities will take place at your home, there are a few areas you may want to inspect and fix before the guests arrive.
Fix Leaky Faucets: Shut off the valves supplying water to the house. Remove the faucet’s handle (not the faucet). The leak usually stems from the on-off handle. If you have two handles, see if the drip is hot or cold and remove only the problem handle. You might have to pop off a button on top to reveal a screw or some pins. Unscrew the screw or remove the pins and a cartridge will come loose. It should have a rubber ring (or washer) inside that is causing the leak. Remove that washer and take it to the hardware store for the right replacement. Install the new washer and put the handle back on. Turn on the water. If you have trouble with the handle or cartridge, you may need to call a plumber.
Stop running toilets: When the toilet is flushed, the flapper opens to let water into the bowl. When it closes, it creates a seal to keep the water in the tank until the next flush. Because the flapper is rubber, it can decompose, warp and harden, all problems that prevent it from sealing properly. That’s why water keeps running out of the tank into the bowl.
Shut off water to the toilet. Pull the flapper valve out of the clips holding it in place, take it to the hardware store and find a matching flapper valve. Replace the valve, making sure it’s sealed tightly. Clip the new valve chain on the trip arm. Turn on the water and test the valve. If the water keeps running, adjust the flapper so the seal is water-tight.
Clean the oven: A year’s worth (or more) of crusty food burned inside of your oven can smoke and create unpleasant odors in the kitchen and dining area. It can also alter the flavor of your food.
If you have one, run the oven’s self-cleaning function. If not, spray on and wipe off an oven cleaning product. Keep in mind, these can be very corrosive if not used properly.
For a “greener” option, wash the oven racks in a sink filled with hot water and vinegar. Soak them while you mix baking soda with water. Spread the paste over the surfaces of the oven. Spritz vinegar on top and let it sit for a few hours or overnight before wiping down and rinsing off. Rinse and dry the racks before placing them in the oven. Be sure to clean the microwave and outdoor barbecue too.
Repair sticky sliding closet doors: Remove closet doors from their tracks. Place them on the floor and inspect for damage. Clean out debris inside the tracks. Straighten the tracks by holding a wood block against the track and tapping it with a hammer. Then lubricate the tracks. Tighten the screws in the overhead track as well. Reinstall closet doors; test them to be sure they are sliding smoothly.
Test smoke alarms and replace batteries: A critical safety measure. If you can’t remember when you replaced the batteries, do it now. Otherwise, you and your guests may be woken up at 2 a.m. from the incessant beeping reminder.
Install path lights leading to the front door: Lights can make your home look more inviting and they’re a good safety measure.
Sketch and measure the area you want covered to estimate how many lights you need. Take that information to the hardware store.
There are many solar options available which you simply dig a small hole and insert the light. If you choose electric lights, use an outdoor GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter outlet. There are probably several outside; if not, have some installed by a licensed electrician. If you have existing GFCIs, make sure they work properly.
Buy a kit that includes lights, 100 feet of low-voltage cable and a transformer to convert your home’s current into low-voltage current for the lights. Get a high-quality transformer that’s slightly bigger than the total wattage of the lights you will use. You may want to buy two smaller transformers instead of one large one.
Follow instructions on the kit. The hardest part of the job will probably be digging a shallow trench for the cable that carries power to the lights.
For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program, heard locally from 8 to 11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) in Tucson and from 7 to 10 a.m. on KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley. Call 888-767-4348.