10 Things That Squeak (and How to Fix Them)
Those squeaks and creaks constantly crying out for your attention? Give them just enough care to silence them once and for all. Here's how.
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The Squeak: Door
How to Silence It: More often than not, a dry or corroded hinge pin is the culprit here. Luckily, this is something you can fix with little more than a can of WD-40 or other joint lubricant. Apply it to the top of the pin and let it drip down to cover the hinge completely, catching any excess with a paper towel. Open and close the door a few times to help coat the oil throughout the pin.
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The Squeak: Floor
How to Silence It: "Squeaky floors are almost always caused by one of two things," Ron Hazelton says. "The floor boards are either rubbing against one another or the shaft of a nail." In either case, the solution is the same, says home improvement expert Hazelton. Stop the floorboards from moving, or try to eliminate the friction.
Stop floor movement by driving pairs of finish nails into to the floor at angles, so that they form a "V" when in place. You can drive them right through carpet, no problem. On finished wood floors, fill the resulting nail holes with a colored wax pencil that matches the wood tone -- available at home improvement centers.
Sometimes friction can be reduced by applying talcum powder or by spraying Teflon lubricant into the joints between noisy floorboards, either from above or below.
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The Squeak: Chair
How to Silence It: Typically, when a chair squeaks, it’s because of loose-fitting or worn joints, usually where legs attach to the seat, says Ron Hazelton, home improvement expert at RonHazelton.com. If the chair’s metal, break out the WD-40, and apply it directly to where the chair base meets the seat. A super easy fix for wood: Get yourself a wood-swelling solution such as Chair-Loc, and squirt it directly into the loose joint. This will cause the wood to expand, he says, thus tightening the joint. Voila! Note that this solution is often temporary, however. For a more permanent fix, drill small holes into the joint, and inject wood glue with a syringe injector. Multiple holes allow the glue to reach most of the joint surfaces, which make for a strong, long-lasting repair.
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The Squeak: Ceiling Fan
How to Silence It: First, check the tops of the blades for excess dust accumulation. "Believe it or not, just a little extra weight can affect the fan's balance, causing the motor to squeak," says Vince Christofora, Jr., engineer and owner of Woodstock Hardware in Woodstock, New York. If the fan has a light kit, make sure the light bulbs are screwed in tightly and/or the globe's mounting screws are secure. Next, lightly grab each blade and wiggle. If you find a loose one, retighten its mounting screws.
If this doesn't fix the squeak, your fan blades may be out of balance, Christofora says. Grab a fan-balancing kit, found at most hardware and home stores. The directions will guide you through the process -- it's pretty straightforward. Still squeaking? It could be that the fan motor's bearings are worn out. Unfortunately, replacement may be the best solution.
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The Squeak: Stairs
How to Silence It: If you can access the staircase’s underside, lightly tap small, thin, glue-coated wood shims between the squeaky treads, risers, and stringers, which are the boards that run the length of the wall on each side of the stairs. If you can’t get behind the stairs, you’ll have to work from the top. (If they’re carpeted, sorry! This will have to wait until replacement time.) Carefully trim the shims with a utility knife, and paint or stain them to match your stairs. If exact colors aren’t available, keep in mind that lighter color patches are less noticeable than darker ones.
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The Squeak: Bed Mattress
How to Silence It: Start by turning your mattress over, rotating it, and centering it on the box spring. (If it's a pillow-top, just rotate and center.) If it still squeaks, see if you can figure out exactly where the squeak is coming from. If the mattress is rubbing against the box spring or bed frame for example, pad that spot with some fabric. If a mattress spring is the culprit, slip a small slab of plywood under it. If it sounds like it's coming from your box spring, and you feel comfortable tearing a small hole in the box spring cover, you could try to lightly lubricate the offending inner spring. Or, perhaps your frame is to blame? Read on for that solution.
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The Squeak: Bed Frame
How to Silence It: Could the squeak be caused simply by the bed legs rubbing on the floor? If so, place felt pads or rubber coasters between the legs and the floor, engineer Christofora says. If not, get to the bottom of things by removing your mattress and box spring.
Inspect the bed frame, headboard, and footboard, tightening all loose screws and bolts. If your frame is metal, apply a quality liquid or spray lubricant anyplace parts rub together. (Christofora recommends liquid or spray Teflon.) If your frame is wood, apply wax wherever pieces meet. "Beeswax works best, but paraffin wax, or even an old candle, will work, too," he says. Tap small glue-covered wood shims into any loose joints, which can develop when wood shrinks over time. Finally, if you notice any wiggling in your screw holes, fill them with a liquid "screw tightener" or simple wood epoxy.
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The Squeak: Faucet
How to Silence It: That annoying sound that greets you each time you wash your hands is probably caused by the metal handle rubbing against the metal faucet stem. Fix it by lubricating the stem, Christofora says. First, unscrew or pop off the faucet cap. (Make sure your sink drain is closed to avoid losing it down the drain.) Next, remove the screw in the center of the knob, being extra careful not to strip it. Once the screw is removed, pull the faucet knob up. Wipe the inside of the faucet handle and the top of the faucet stem with a clean, dry rag. Place an even coat of plumber’s grease, found at a hardware or home store, on the exposed faucet stem and the inside of the faucet handle, too. Replace the faucet handle, screw, and knob cap -- then wash your hands in peace.
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The Squeak: Drawer
How to Silence It: Remove the drawer. If the squeak comes from wood on grinding on wood, rub beeswax, paraffin or an old candle on the drawer and the inside of the chest -- wherever wood meets, Christofora says. Put the drawer back, then open and close it a few times until the squeak is gone. Repeat if necessary.
For squeaky drawers that have nylon wheels and metal glides, apply liquid or spray Teflon lubricant to both the wheels and the glides. (Remove the drawers below the one you are working on, too, so the lubricant doesn’t drip down and ruin its contents.) Wipe up any excess lubricant, replace the drawer, then slide it in and out to ensure the squeak is gone. If it’s not, repeat until it is.
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The Squeak: Refrigerator
How to Silence It: The problem is most likely that your kitchen floor isn't level, says Sabine H. Schoenberg, home expert at SabinesHome.com. An unbalanced floor means an unbalanced fridge, which means an unbalanced fridge motor that's probably knocking against its own housing. "Not only is the sound annoying, it also shortens the appliance's lifespan," she says. This is exactly why most refrigerators -- and other large appliances, for that matter -- have adjustable legs. Move them up or down until the fridge is balanced and the squeak stops.
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