Small Repairs You Can Do Yourself

kitchen sink
Broken tiles? Leaky faucet? Don't hire a professional for a small repair -- fix it yourself! We'll show you how.

Quick and Easy Repairs

Want to fix a pesky problem in your kitchen or bath without breaking the bank? Tackle those small home repairs yourself -- home improvement expert Paul Ringling, from Strosniders Hardware in Bethesda, Maryland, explains how.

Problem: Broken Tile

Solution: Remove the grout around the tile with a grout saw, a small tool available for a few dollars at paint and hardware stores. If a tile has already started to chip, continue to break off little pieces and remove the entire damaged tile. If not, make a hole in the center with a masonry drill, which will break the tile, and remove the pieces from the center outward. Glue the new tile in place with an adhesive such as Liquid Nails, then apply fresh grout around the edges.

Problem: Torn Vinyl

Solution: Use a silicone-base seam sealer to fill the tear and wipe off the excess with a dry cloth. Or try this easy fix: If it's a no-wax floor and the tear is small, take a bar of soap and rub it sideways along the cut until it is filled. You'd think the soap would disappear when you wash the floor, but unless you immerse the vinyl in water and use a brush, the soap will stay in place. It won't be as good as new, but it will go a long way to hide the problem.

Problem: Scratches in a Wood Cabinet

Solution: Hardware stores sell a number of scratch fillers that look like brown pencils or crayons. Find the shade that most closely matches your cabinet and rub it into the scratch. Or you can try a similar product that is more like a felt-tip pen and comes in different shades of ink.

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Problem: Frozen Icemaker

Solution: Inside the freezer, remove the ice bin and find the tray where the water freezes into ice cubes. Open the tray and look for a little piece of plastic pipe where the water flows into the ice-cube tray. The end of that pipe can freeze up. You can thaw it out by aiming a hair dryer at the pipe. It should thaw within five minutes.

Problem: Loose Laminate Countertops

Solution: Buy an adhesive such as Liquid Nails -- the kind that says "projects" on the label -- and apply it beneath the laminate. Press the laminate down and put something heavy on top until it dries. Liquid Nails and similar products are available at hardware and lumber stores.

Problem: Worn-Out or Dried Caulk

Solution: Put some adhesive remover (3M makes a particularly good one) on a damp cloth or sponge and wipe over the silicone caulk. Let it soak in. Remove the old caulk and clean the area with a ceramic tile cleaner. Let it dry, then recaulk.

Problem: Stains in Grout

Solution: If grout is stained with mold or mildew, tile cleaners such as Tilex can kill it. Be sure to soak the stain well with the tile cleaner and let it sit for at least a couple of days. Mold and mildew need time to die, and when they do, they turn white. If the stain is from wine, remove the affected grout with a grout saw, then regrout. About 48 hours later, use a grout sealer to reduce the likelihood that the grout will stain again.

Problem: Drippy Faucet

Solution: First, stop the flow of water to the faucet by turning off the stop valves under the sink. If it's an old faucet, remove the handle by unscrewing it. (The screw may be hidden under a plastic piece that you can flip off with a pocketknife.) Once the handle is off, remove the chrome cylinder underneath, then remove the nut that holds the stem in place. Pull out the stem and replace the washer. New faucets have "seats" that serve the same purpose as a washer, but you need to buy one that's specifically for the brand and model of your faucet. Disassemble the faucet and take it to a hardware or plumbing store if you need help identifying the model.

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