Tag Archives: Repair

How to Repair Your Fluorescent Lighting

If you are interested in saving some energy dollars, you might wish to consider fluorescent lighting, particularly if you’re going to put in new fixtures. Fluorescent tubes give light much more efficiently than incandescent bulbs. In fact, a 40-watt fluorescent gives out more light than a 100-watt incandescent while using less than half the current. While the incandescent bulb costs a lot less than the fluorescent tube, the fluorescent can last from ten to twenty times as long.

Why wouldn’t everyone switch to fluorescent lighting? Buying the new fixtures would cost quite a bit, making the payback in savings a long time off.

However, there are now fluorescent bulbs that have a tiny built in ballast and screw into a lamp or fixture socket. This gives you an inexpensive way to try fluorescent lighting and see if you like the kind of light it produces. Some people don’t.

fluorescent lights repair How to Repair Your Fluorescent Lighting

Fluorescent repair

If you turn on a fluorescent fixture and the tube doesn’t light up, here are some things to check:

1. Is there current to the circuit? Check for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker switch.

2. If the tube isn’t properly inserted in the lamp holder at each end, no electricity is reaching the tube.

3. If your fixture requires a starter, replace it with the proper size starter.

4. If you have another fixture that uses the same size tube, switch them and you’ll find out if the tube is burned out.

Sometimes a fluorescent tube blinks or flickers. Before it drives you crazy, check these things:

1. If it’s a new tube, the problem should go away shortly. In fact, shut the fixture off and back on, and the problem may solve itself instantly.

2. Check the lamp holder and the pins on the end of the tube for corrosion. Light sanding will eliminate this. If the pins are bent, use pliers to gently straighten them.

3. The problem may be in the starter, or the tube may be going bad.

If the tube is just partially lighting-for example, the ends are dark, or there’s no light in the middle, try these things:

1. Reverse the tube end for end.

2. Shut off power to the unit and check the wiring and all connection^, starting at the ballast.

3. Try a new starter.

If the fixture starts to hum, it may mean the ballast is going out. Check the wiring, and if that doesn’t help, be prepared to buy and replace the ballast. It should be wired in just as the old one was.

How to Repair Window Blinds

Venetian blinds and mini-blinds are a lot alike. Repairs are easier than you think. The most common problems are with the cords. So, let’s start with them. The cords often look like a maze, but if you lay the unit out on the floor face down, you can make a simple drawing of the route that the cords take. The drawing will be your road map when installing new cords.

There are two cord systems … the lift cord and the tilt cord. Most blind repair kits come with cords for both systems. So, we’ll replace both, starting with the lift cord:

1. The ends of the cords are knotted under the bottom of the tapes. Untie them and pull on the loop as if you were raising the blinds. This will pull the cords out.

window blinds repair How to Repair Window Blinds

2. Start feeding the new cord up through the bottom on the side next to the tilt cord. The cord goes on alternate sides of the ladder tape.

3. Bring it up over the pulley and along the top over to the mechanism on the other side.

4. Go under the first and over the second pulley.

5. Now bring the cord down through the lift cord locking device.

6. Go back to where you started and pull the cord until there is just enough sticking out from the bottom rail to let you tie a knot. Return to the other side, feed the cord over the second set of pulleys, and work it down through the other ladder tape.

7. When that’s done, adjust the size of the loop, trim off the excess, and tie the other knot.

8. That’s it except for the tilt cord. Just run it over the tilt pulley and back down. With this properly adjusted, add the pulls and you’re finished.

The second problem area for blinds is the webbing or ladder tapes. If one or two of the small ladder pieces have come loose, use fabric glue, which is available at fabric stores. If the entire webbing set need replacing, here are the steps to new ladders:

1. Lay the blind unit on the floor.

2. Untie the knots of both ends of the cord and pull them up and out at the top.

3. This means the louvers or slats can all come out. Remove them.

4. A U-shaped hook holds the ladder tape to the top of the tilt bar. Pull it out and remove the ladder tape and hook the new one in place.

5. Insert the slats and run the cord through the ladders, knot the cord under the bottom rail, and take the rest of the day off.

How to Repair Vinyl Floors

What some folks still refer to as linoleum is mostly vinyl. It’s beautiful, sturdy, is mostly water- and stainproof, and is practically maintenance-free.

This flooring is available as tiles or as sheet goods. Sheet good often means an entire room can be covered with no seams. With a vinyl tile floor, the room is a checkerboard of seams.

We start with seams because this is a common vinyl floor problem. With sheet goods, you need to warm the flooring, as the heat often reactivates the adhesive underneath. Use a heat gun, hair dryer, or even an iron. Hold the iron close to the material without touching and keep the iron moving. When the edges are flexible, they should once again lie down flat. Then, by placing weights over the floor along the seam, the newly activated adhesive should hold it in place.

vinyl floor repair How to Repair Vinyl Floors

If that didn’t work, heat the edges again but this time peel them back so you can scrape out the old adhesive and apply new glue. Press the edges in place and wipe away any excess adhesive. Place wax paper over the seam in case more glue gets squeezed out.

The permanent way to cure the seam problem is with a product called seam sealer. It is applied to the edges and chemically welds the flooring edges together.


Often a scratch will heal itself. To help this happen, take a penny or nickel and press hard as you rub it along the scratch. Seam sealer can also close cracks. Or, hide the


Small holes can be filled with a patching compound you can make. Take a scrap piece of the flooring and use a food grater to create a fine powder. Mix this in lacquer to form a putty-like baste that will match the color of the floor to form a perfect patch.

Larger gouges may require patching. If the floor is tiled, just remove the ruined tile and replace. Use a heat gun or even a propane torch in the center of the tile. Heat will soften the adhesive and allow you to go to work at the gouge with a chisel or putty knife to rip up the old tile. Be careful not to damage the edges of surrounding tiles. With the old tile out of the way, scrape up the old adhesive, apply new glue, and press the replacement down. Put weights on it overnight. If the floor is sheet goods, cut out a square or rectangle and use the same heat treatment to get the old vinyl up. Lay this piece on a scrap of the flooring and line up the pattern. Carefully cut out the patch and set it in place over new adhesive.

How to Repair Holes in the Wall

There are many ways to get holes in the wall. There’s the doorknob hole from a too exuberant opening of the door. The doorknob makes a hole about the same size as a fist-sized hole. There are even bigger holes like the one caused by a runaway tricycle crashing through the wall. Patching any of these disasters may be easier than you think.

Golf ball-sized holes and smaller

The problem with drywall holes is that there is no backing. The spackle can end up falling into the hollow space. With any hole, clean away any loose debris. For smaller holes you can usually use a putty knife to cover the hole with spackle. Smooth it, let it dry, and then touch-up with paint.

Another way to patch small holes is to crisscross small strips of self-adhesive fiberglass drywall mesh tape to cover the hole. Then apply a layer of drywall compound. After this coat dries, you’ll probably have to texture it.

repairing holes How to Repair Holes in the Wall

Doorknob-sized holes

For a hole of this size in drywall, you definitely need some backing. Fortunately, there are several choices. There are doorknob repair kits available that have everything you need for this job. These kits contain a small square of gypsum board, plastic clips that hold the patch in place, a small container of patching compound, and a putty knife. You use the patch as a template. Mark it off on the wall, covering the hole. Use a keyhole saw to cut the opening. Be on the lookout for wiring. Then with the patch clipped in place, you cover it all with compound and smooth it out, feathering the edges. When dry, sand the surface, texture it, and use touch-up paint. Or, here’s a way that costs nothing:

1. Cut a scrap of window screen a little bigger than the hole.

2. Run a piece of string through an opening in the center of the screen. Loop the string back through the screen.

3. Now force the screen through the hole while holding onto the string.

4. Pull the screen up snug against the inside of the wall.

5. Tie the string around a pencil.

6. Twist the pencil tourniquet style to tighten the backing against the wall.

7. Apply patching compound up to within 1/8-inch of the surface.

8. When this coat dries, snip off the string and fill with compound to the surface.

9. When dry, sand and texture to match the rest of the wall and then paint.

For the doorknob sized hole in a plaster wall, here’s the drill:

1. Clean away all loose material around the hole.

2. Cut a scrap of hardware cloth to fit inside the hole. (Hardware cloth is a wire mesh with about 1/2-inch openings.)

3. Staple the mesh to the wooden lath.

4. For bigger holes in plaster, use patching plaster instead of drywall compound. Fill in the hole with three applications, allowing drying time between each.

5. When dry and hard, sand, and either smooth or texture to match the rest of the wall. Then paint.

How to Repair Ceilings

Most residential ceilings are either drywall or plaster. Many of the same things that happen to walls also befall ceilings. The same general idea applies to ceiling repairs. However, dealing with the ceiling must often be done while you’re on a ladder and in an awkward position. Also, there is the additional problem of fighting gravity. The patches must be well secured or they are liable to come tumbling down. Often this requires more drywall screws than for wall patches.

Plus, ceilings have some other problems, and there are many types of ceilings.

ceiling repair How to Repair Ceilings

A sagging ceiling

This can be a minor thing or can be very serious. With either type, you’ll do well to make a T-brace or maybe even a couple of them. To work, the T-brace must be about an inch longer than the ceiling height so it can be wedged in place to lift up and hold the ceiling at the sag.

With drywall, nails have probably come loose, and you may spot the areas where this has happened from the nail holes. The nail holes also help you see where the joists are. If so, install drywall screws into the joists. Use plenty of screws but remember that you’ll have to patch over each screw head.

The sagging plaster ceiling can be more dangerous because of the weight involved. But with plaster, there are more places in which to fasten the ceiling back in place. In addition to joists, there are also lath boards. Use screws plus washers under the heads. All of these fasteners must be covered when the ceiling is secure.


Even though the sheets of gypsum board are very smooth, when installed there are uneven areas because of taping and bedding, nails, and uneven studs. Under certain lighting conditions, imperfections show up. Texturing tends to make these bad spots get lost. A good texturing tool is a paint roller. The length of the nap on a roller gives different textures. We prefer a short napped roller but that’s a judgment call. It’s a good idea to practice on a scrap of gypsum board. You can roll and then scrape it all off, trying different things until you get the right texture. Apply a thin smooth layer of mud with a wide drywall knife and then roll the surface.

Ceilings have a wider variety of popular texture patterns. Crow’s foot is done with a special brush that you jab against the ceiling to make the pattern. Swirls can be made with a stiff broom.

There are no rules when it comes to texture patterns, so if you want to try something weird, use that scrap and practice. A notched trowel made for spreading floor adhesive can make an interesting pattern on walls or ceilings.

Popcorn ceilings

This is a very popular acoustical ceiling treatment that is sprayed on. There is also a roll-on version that is easier for the do-it-yourselfer to apply. From the name, you know exactly how it looks. It is generally not painted. In fact, efforts to paint this type of ceiling usually result in a lot of the aggregate being dislodged. This is a common problem with a popcorn ceiling. Fortunately, there is a patching compound made to replace the stuff that has fallen off. This compound comes in a small plastic tub and is applied with a putty knife. It comes in two types-”New” and “Old.” New is very white and Old is off-white.

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