The Squeaky Door
A squeaky door hinge is a pretty common household problem—and one that's totally fixable. Tap out the hinge pin with a hammer, then coat it with grease or a thick lubricant, such as petroleum jelly. Work the pin back into the hinge, and open and close the door several times to get the lubricant worked through. Now you can sneak into the kitchen for a midnight snack undetected.
The Clanking Radiator
A traditional hot water radiator keeps a house toasty warm, but it makes a lot of noise when condensed steam gets trapped in the pipes. Fix the problem by shimming the radiator so that it’s tipped back toward the boiler. This will prevent those pockets of steam from developing, and those clanking noises will go away.
The Running Toilet
Not only does the sound of a running toilet drive you crazy, but it also drives up the water bill. The problem may be that the float is too high, causing water to continually flow down the overflow pipe. Open the lid of the toilet tank and adjust the float to ensure that it sits below that pipe. If that doesn’t fix the problem, follow the diagnostic steps in this how-to, and check the flapper, fill tube, and fill valve.
Related: The Toilets of Tomorrow
The Creaky Floorboard
Squeaks and creaks in your hardwood floors can send shivers up your spine. You may be able to eliminate the ghastly sounds with a snap-off screw kit. Just predrill a hole in the creaky board, and then drill in the specialty screw until it snaps off under the surface. You’ll be left with a tiny hole you can easily hide with wood filler.
The Whistling Window
There are few sounds as unsettling as a window that whistles in a strong wind. Soundproof your windows by caulking and weatherstripping around the frame to seal up any gaps. Once the air can’t get through, the whistling should stop.
The Scratching Squirrels
Hear that scratch-scratch-scratch behind the walls or above the ceiling? If so, you’ve got critters. Mice, squirrels, and raccoons often find refuge in those cozy spaces. Once they do, it can mean destruction for your home—from ripped-up insulation to chewed-up wiring. Try trapping squirrels and raccoons, and then relocating them several miles away to keep them from finding their way back home. Avoid using poison to get rid of mice. Instead, seal up gaps and cracks where they can enter, then set traps until you don’t hear the scratching anymore.
The Bubbling Water Heater
When sediment and mineral deposits build up in a traditional gas water heater, you can hear popping and cracking when a heating cycle starts. Drain and flush the tank regularly to avoid the buildup and get rid of those gurgling sounds. If the problem persists, call a professional, because something more serious may be going on.
The Rattling Pipes
The Buzzing Bulb
Dimmer switches can set a nice mood, but not if they’re buzzing like an angry hornet. Dimmer switches work by turning the current on and off to make a light appear less bright—but that puts a lot of stress on an incandescent bulb. If your dimmed light bulbs are humming, try one of two quick fixes. Change the bulb out for a new one with a stronger filament, or upgrade the dimmer switch to one that alternates the current more gently.
The Dripping Faucet
A dripping faucet is most likely the fault of a worn-out washer. To replace it, first turn the water off under the sink. Then, drain the faucet and carefully take it apart, keeping track of the order and orientation of the parts. Remove the worn-out washer at the bottom of the stem, and bring it to the store to get the correct replacement size. Put it all back together, and the grating drip should stop. For a washerless faucet, check out this how-to to diagnose and fix the problem.
Related: 10 Top DIY Pipe Fitting Projects
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!