How to be a mom MacGyver

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Is the honey-do jar overflowing at your house?

Ladies, perhaps it's time to tackle some of the projects yourself.

Columbus Parent Magazine consulted with local experts on some do-it-yourself projects for beginners.

Don't be afraid to try something new, said Denise Hobbs, owner of the Columbus home repair company, Handimamm.

"Everyone is nervous when first getting started, in fear of not doing things right," said Hobbs, who will teach some beginning classes through the Upper Arlington Lifelong Learning & Leisure program this spring.

"Confidence comes with experience, and experience comes from just diving in and tackling a project. The more you do, the more confidence you gain."

Start by researching the project, recommended Tom Gratz, a home maintenance and repair teacher for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. He suggests looking for resources online, taking classes at your local hardware or do-it-yourself store, and consulting home repair magazine, Family Handyman.

Homeowners "can do it. It's whether they want to learn it or not," he said.

Take your time when planning and doing the projects, added Dean Bortz, associate professor and co-cordinator of the Construction Management program at Columbus State Community College.

"It's a step by step process," he said. "The biggest problem is understanding the sequence of what has to be done first."

The experts offered ideas on home maintenance tasks and some McGyver-like quick fixes. They also urged beginners not to be afraid of leaky faucets and running toilets. Both projects could likely be completed successfully after reading step-by-step instructions, watching a video or consulting with someone at a hardware store, they said.

They also recommended leaving electrical repairs to the professionals.

"Electrical work is one thing where a little bit of knowledge is dangerous." Gratz said.

Change your furnace filters every three months.

This easy task will improve the air quality of your home and allow the furnace to run more efficiently. Consult your manual for the location of the filter. Is is usually found in the blower compartment.

Drain your hot water heater annually.

Draining the tank helps remove the sediment and mineral deposits left by the water. Sediment build-up means the appliance has to work harder to heat the water. To drain the tank, turn off the heating element and shut off the water supply feeding the tank. Then attach a garden hose to the bottom drain valve and run it to a drain. After the tank is empty, close the valve and restart the water.

Keep your gutters free of debris.

Clean gutters help prevent water damage to your home by directing water away from your roof and foundation.

Prevent your drains from clogging by cleaning them with baking soda and vinegar.

Pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a half cup of white vinegar. Wait about a half hour and then flush the drain with a kettle full of boiling water.

Install corner strips on walls to cover up chips and dings.

Use a utility knife to cut the strips to fit your walls and install them with a staple gun.

Fix a sticky drawer.

To stop a drawer from sticking or squeaking, empty it and remove it from the base. Turn the drawer over to expose the rollers. Spray rollers with silicon lubricant and let sit for a few minutes. Return the drawer to the base and slide it in and out a few times to lubricate the tracks.

Prevent serious water damage.

If your ceiling starts dripping water because of a leaky roof, use a pencil to poke a hole into the ceiling. This gives the water a path out of the ceiling and prevents it from spreading and soaking a greater portion of the ceiling.

Troubleshoot a stopped furnace.

If your furnace stops running, check to see whether the furnace door has vibrated loose or if your digital thermostat battery has died. Many furnaces will quit working if the door is not tightly secured. A dead battery also will stop a furnace from working.

Repair nicks and scrapes in cabinets.

Make cabinet doors look new again by covering minor dings and scratches with markers designed to match the wood tones and cover the flaws.

Melissa Kossler Dutton has worked as a reporter for more than a decade. She's a frequent contributor to a variety of Ohio publications. She lives in Bexley with her husband and two sons.