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If your house is just perfect and everything in it works exactly how it should, this post is not going to be of any value to you. By the way, the rest of us are going to admire you now. Not for too long – that isn’t healthy – but at least give you that nod of approval and some “how did she do it” acknowledgement.
For the rest of us, this is what I want to talk about: you are walking through your house and pass the broken doorbell / door that doesn’t latch / ugly light fixture and you see them, remind yourself to fix or update them, and then get on with your day. You might remember them again once you are in bed and waiting to fall asleep and you might say to yourself: tomorrow, I will get it done tomorrow. But tomorrow rolls around with a whole new list to get through, and then next week and next month and before you know it, you’ve been living with the broken doorbell / door latch or ugly ceiling light for years!
Well, I have finally put my items on a list and committed to fixing one item per day.
Here is my list:
- Fix the Doorbell
- Fix Ceiling Fan in Guest Bedroom
- Shorten Window Blinds in the Kids’ Bathroom
- Lengthen the Guest Room Curtains
- Re-glaze Kitchen Window Panes
- Cover Water Stains on Ceiling
- Update Hallway Light Fixture
- Replace the Bathroom Light Switch
- Fix Squeaky Floors
- Fix the Guest Toilet
I started out very enthusiastically at first and made it through the first four items in no time at all. And then it rained, and I couldn’t get to the kitchen window panes when I wanted to and I lost all momentum. We were into Spring already here in Georgia and with warmer temperatures, my regular to-do list popped up and took over. And of course, then COVID-19 happened and with more at home time, we started tackling some bigger projects that Pieter and I could do together.
Well, it is finally time to complete my list (and this post), so here goes!
Project 1: Fix the Doorbell
Such a quick and easy fix! I needed to figure out why the old one stopped working first.
Step 1: new batteries for the chime. Nope, not ringing yet.
Step 2: Check the button itself. I unscrewed the old button and was left with two exposed wires. Online research told me I could touch these together and if the doorbell rings, it means the button itself is broken. This was exactly the case here and a new doorbell went onto my shopping list.
I bought a very basic button to replace my old one, and just had to connect the two wires first, and then fix the button itself in place. Voila! Problem solved by only spending about $13!
While I had the chime cover in my hand, I realized it was still cream colored and doesn’t fit with the new paint color on the walls. Two coats of grey spray paint and it too blended in a bit better.
Do you need a new doorbell? Here is a similar one on Amazon:
Project 2: Fix the Ceiling Fan
We have a very basic ceiling fan in our guest bedroom. This fixture also included lighting and once the fan was switched on at the wall switch, you could use the pulls to adjust the fan speed or to switch the lights on and off. Now one if the pulls were broken. I started by opening up the cover under the light and examining the mechanism. When I compared the one for the lights to the one for the fan, I realized that my mechanism was broken and needed to be replaced. Onto the shopping list it went.
Swapping the broken part with the new part was pretty straight forward. I took plenty of pictures as I was working on it and within minutes had it fixed and working again.
Is your pull broken? My new pull was under $10. You can also get them directly from Amazon:
Project 3: Shorten Window Blinds
The house we currently live in had blinds in place for all the upstairs windows, except this bathroom window. I did a light bathroom refresh after we moved in. I painted the cabinet, the walls, installed a shelf above the toilet and added new hand towel hooks. I also added blinds to this window. I knew they were too long and that I needed to come back and shorten them at some point.
Well, that time was now. Remove the bottom slat first and keep it to the side. Slide out all the other ones that you no longer need and then cut the string shorter. Add the bottom slat back in and thread the string through the holes. It really isn’t that scary and won’t take more than 30 minutes start to finish!
Project 4: Lengthen Curtains
This was an interesting item on the list. I have white bedding in the guest bedroom and matched it with white curtains from a previous house. The guest bedroom is in the basement and because of the way the only window is positioned, the curtains were always too short. Originally, new curtains went onto the shopping list, but never quite made it to the top.
I noticed the curtains again while working on the ceiling fan. This was “rod pocket” type of curtains so opening and closing them wasn’t easy. I remembered seeing rings with clips in the store at some time and realized it would make a world of difference for this window. It would also give me a bit of extra (and much needed) length.
I would still need to add something to the bottom of the curtains and decided to see what I had in the house that could be used here. I went digging through my linen closet and found black dust ruffles for twin size beds. We don’t have twin size beds in the house and I remembered that they were part of the comforter sets we bought for our camper a while back. The height was almost perfect and I thought it would give me the opportunity to experiment a bit with color blocking 🙂
I cut two pieces and I used “no sew” iron on tape to attach them to the curtains. I bought black clips to blend with the curtain rod and fastened them to the top of the curtains. Another quick and easy fix and I spent less than $18!
Do you need curtain rod clips? You can get them directly from Amazon for about $8.75 for 14 clips.
Project 5: Re-glaze Window Panes
This is where I lost momentum. It started raining when I planned to tackle this project and all my plans got messed up. COVID-19 changes had everyone at home all the time and I decided to postpone the rest of the “small fixes” until later.
But soon I was able to get this completed as well. It didn’t take much elbow grease to remove the old glaze, and it only took a couple of minutes to add the new glaze and smooth it out. My type of glaze was white and didn’t need to be painted, but yours could need a coat of paint later on. I will come back to this window sill for some more work at another time.
Get some compound at your home improvement store, or order from Amazon:
Project 6: Cover Water Stains on Ceiling
It was time to address the two water stains on my ceiling this week. Our overflow pipe for the upstairs ac unit was clogged a while ago and some water got onto the ceiling in two spots. We fixed the cause, but needed to come back and cover the ugly brown stains. After some home improvement store wandering, I found a can of Kilz Spray Paint.
It took longer to carry my ladder and paint can upstairs than it did to do the actual painting!
Quick Tip: there is a lot of overspray with Kilz and it goes everywhere! I used an empty box and held it under the area where I was working, as close to the ceiling as possible. That box was covered in white by the time I was done, but nothing else had spray paint on it.
Good as new for less than $15! Don’t want to go to the store? Get it on Amazon here.
Project 7: Hallway Light Fixture
Do you have a bronze or gold colored light fixture in your house? You know you can paint that, right? Sometimes replacing a light fixture just isn’t in the budget. In my case, I also didn’t have an idea what type of fixture I would put up in its place. So the easiest solution I could come up with, was to simply spray paint it black for now.
And that is just what I did. I removed the light fixture and took it apart. Then I taped all the glass with blue painters tape and gave the metal a couple of coats of paint. I did go very light on each coat, just to make sure I didn’t get any runs.
After a couple of days, I removed the tape and cleaned up my overspray and re-installed the light fixture again. A quick and easy fix for what was certainly an eyesore in our hallway.
Project 8: Fix Bathroom Light Switch
I can’t even tell you how long the light switch in our bathroom was an “issue”. For a while, you just had to jiggle it a bit before the lights would come on. And then it went through a phase where the light would turn off while you were in the bathroom. It finally just got on my nerves and on this fix list.
Our lights were on a specific dimmer switch, so we made sure to take pictures of it and get the same one at the store. Now, I know working with anything electrical can be a pain, but as long as you are careful this is a perfectly acceptable DIY project. I would highly recommend turning off the breaker to that part of the house. And if you are worried that you might get it wrong, just take many pictures of the wires and connections before you loosen any.
Project 9: Fix Squeaky Floors
Our house isn’t new (think late 90’s) but it felt way to young to have such squeaky floors. But we had them and they were driving us crazy. The worst areas were on the main floor, in the kitchen. While the shopping part for this was relatively easy – we bough wood shims online – getting them inserted took some team work.
We have a dropped ceiling in our basement and it was easy to remove ceiling tiles in the areas where we needed access to the floor joists. We took turns making the floor squeak in the kitchen, and relaying the exact position to Pieter who was on the ladder downstairs and inserted the shims and kept adjusting until the squeak was gone. To make the floor squeak involved some footwork, but was all in all a fun experience.
We quickly identified and fixed all the trouble spots and now we hardly have any squeaks left.
We bought wooden shims on Amazon – these were the ones we got:
Project 10: Fix Toilet
I feel like this item could be on many household to do lists. We all have them in our homes and we all run into problems with them from time to time. In our case, the toilet in our half bath was wobbly and the tank took forever to fill with water. The inside parts looked worn so we decided to go ahead and replace them. Our Home Depot shopping list also included a new wax seal (we just assumed it would be the fix for the wobbly toilet).
Toilets are fixed to the floor with bolts and nuts, and Pieter started by tightening the nuts on the two bolts that were holding ours in place. We quickly realized that this was what was causing it to be wobbly, and after a couple of extra turns, it was all fixed.
While I have replaced some “parts” inside toilet tanks before, this project was all on Pieter. He removed the tank completely to replace all the parts and seals. I helped with a bit of cleaning and within 30 minutes, everything was back in place and working beautifully!
Cost to get it all done – about $30!
The hardest part with this list of 10 Days of Small Fixes and Updates was to get started. It is just human to assume the worst when something breaks or stops working. Take a minute and investigate the cause of the issue. Cut down on shopping trips by ordering online.
You will be amazed at how fast some of these projects can be completed and also, for how little money!
What will you be fixing around the house?