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Tips for the Home Handyman

Mar 15, 2008
When a new home appliance or power tool is delivered, always make certain you read all instruction booklets and other accompanying literature carefully before putting the gadget to work for the first time. Fill out and mail whatever guarantee cards accompany the item, and, most important of all, be sure you file this literature in a safe place where it can be referred to later on whenever repairs are needed.

The booklet may tell you how to make some of the simpler repairs and adjustments yourself, and will give you serial numbers, model numbers and other pertinent data which you may need in the future when trouble occurs.


When oiling small motors and other delicate moving parts of appliances, most manufacturers recommend that only a few drops of light oil be applied. To simplify the task of measuring out the required amount, and to avoid dangerous over-oiling, apply the oil with an eyedropper so that the exact amount can be accurately measured.

Clean Motors

Electric motors in appliances and workshop machines can have their efficiency cut considerably if heavy accumulations of dust or grit are allowed to accumulate on the inside around the windings, bearings or commutator. To prevent trouble before it happens, the homeowner should get in the habit of cleaning all motors thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner at least twice a year. Use the narrow crevice attachment to suck out dust and dirt where possible. Then use the blowing end to puff out the remainder. Needless to say, make certain the motor being cleaned is turned off before starting this job.

Preventing Motor Burn-Out

If a homeowner has trouble with motors on power tools or appliances burning out for no apparent reason - especially if several are plugged in on the same circuit - he should call a competent electrical contractor to check his wiring and to check the loads on each circuit. When circuits are overloaded, voltages delivered at the outlets will drop. Though this may not be severe enough to blow a fuse, if continued long enough it may eventually cause motors to burn out. The only sure cure lies in adding extra circuits, or in having a larger meter and fuse box installed.

Prevent Kinking

To prevent electric power cords on portable appliances from twisting and kinking, home handymen can cover them with a spiral plastic cord wrapper of the type that is sold in many hardware and home-furnishing stores for use on telephone cords. These are installed by simply twisting in place around the outside of the cord.

Electric Plugs

To keep plastic electric plugs on appliances from cracking when they are accidentally banged or crushed, wrap them with one or two layers of plastic or rubber tape, particularly if the appliance is to be used around the garage or workshop. This method can also be used to make an emergency repair on one of these plugs after the damage has been done. However, replace it with a new plug as soon as possible.

Parts Tray

When making repairs on small appliances, screws, gears and other miniature parts are often easily misplaced. Eliminate this problem by folding up a small tray of white cardboard or aluminum foil. The light-colored material will make parts easier to spot, and the lip that is folded around the edge will prevent the parts from accidentally rolling away.

Appliance Touch-Up

When the finish on a kitchen appliance becomes scratched or nicked so that the bare metal underneath is exposed, it should be touched up as quickly as possible to prevent rusting. Special touch-up materials are sold in most paint, hardware and appliance stores, or you can use any good grade of enamel in a matching color.

In an emergency even a little clear fingernail polish could be used to protect the metal till a permanent repair can be made. Apply the touch-up with a small cotton swab wrapped around a toothpick, and build up in layers if necessary to fill in a deep scratch.

Take care of your appliances in the ways mentioned above, and they should give you years of good service. It's worth taking the time and making the effort.
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