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Helpful Tips For The Home Handyman

Dec 26, 2007
There are many small jobs the home handyman must complete to maintain the exterior of his home. Here are some of these jobs and how to carry them out satisfactorily.

Roof Shingles

After heavy windstorms, homeowners who inspect their roofs may find that some roof shingles have been lifted up or curled back so that they no longer lie flat. This leaves the roof more susceptible to leaks since the next heavy rainstorm may blow water up under the shingles where it can seep down through the roof boards. To correct this situation, climb up on the roof and apply a dab of roof cement under each of the curled shingles so as to hold them flat. During the next warm spell, shingles will uncurl and will continue to lie flat even if the cement dries out.

Anchoring Railings

When railings or other fixtures must be anchored to concrete floors or stoops, handymen can do the job best by using one of the special, quick-setting hydraulic cements that are available in most hardware stores or lumber yards. After the bolt hole is drilled (using a star drill or a tungsten carbide bit), the bolt is placed head first in the hole with threads protruding.

Then pour a freshly mixed batch of the hydraulic cement in around it. This cement sets up very quickly and very hard, and it expands tightly in the hole so that it grips permanently and securely. The grip will be improved if a washer is first slipped around the head of the bolt before anchoring.

Removing Efflorescence

The white, powdery stain that occurs on outside brickwork is unsightly in appearance and should be removed before paints or waterproof coatings are applied. Mix muriatic acid with four parts of water, adding the acid to the water (never the water to the acid) in a glass or wooden container - not metal. Wear rubber gloves, and scrub the solution on with a stiff bristle brush. Wait several minutes, then hose off with plain water.

Frozen Locks

During the winter, moisture may get into outdoor garage or tool shed locks and then freezes. This will make it difficult to insert the key and may make the lock impossible to open. When this happens, heat the key a few times by holding it in the flame of a lighter or match. Then work the key gently back and forth inside the lock. Repeat until the lock warms sufficiently to melt the ice inside.

Protecting Padlocks

When padlocks are used around the outside of the house, dirt, rust or other corrosion will sometimes form in the mechanism, making the lock difficult to open. To prevent this, place a strip of waterproof tape over the keyhole when it is not in use. The tape can be easily stripped off and replaced each time the key is inserted.

Outdoor Paneling

When building outdoor cabinets, storage boxes and other projects using plywood or hardboard, the home handyman should make certain he purchases only those grades designed for exposure to weather. Hardboard comes in a special tempered variety for outdoor use, and plywood comes in an exterior grade made with special waterproof glues.

Rust Streaks

Rust stains on exterior painted siding are frequently caused by exposed nail heads which may be corroding beneath the surface of the paint. To correct this, sand off the nail head and spot-prime with a little shellac or a metal primer. Then countersink the nail head and fill the hole with putty before repainting.

Removing Metal Stains

To remove rust stains or other metal stains from light colored exterior siding, try washing with a water solution of oxalic acid. This is sold in crystalline form at paint and hardware stores. Dissolve three-quarters of a pound in one gallon of water and sponge over the stain. Allow to dry for several minutes, then rub off with a clean cloth.

Using these quick methods will make the tasks easier and safer to complete.
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