Sunday, June 10, 2012

Extension Cord Keeps Tangling

During all my years as a contractor I have never had a problem with my extension cords tangling because of a little trick I learned years ago from a old framer.  Since I visit many a home and see their extension cords tangled, I though you might want to view this YouTube video, No Tangle Extension Cord Storage, and never have a tangled extension cord again...

Remember, if all else fails just call a professional or One Call Home Handyman and we will help in any way we can.  If you have any questions please email us at or go to our site at

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Toilet Won't Stop Running

During a recent visit to one of my customer's homes I was asked to help fix a toilet that would not stop running.  Upon investigation I found that about every minute or so the tank valve would come on and fill the tank with a small amount of water.  This ususally means that the flapper valve is leaking and is a simple fix.  Upon further investigation I saw that the gasket under the flapper assembly was deteriorating and was allowing water to leak into the tank.

Since the toilet was only 4 years old and these gaskets are supposed to last many years I did some investigation and found that recent research has shown that many common toilet cleaning products can damage the rubber flapper causing significant leakage. Dropping certain toilet bowl cleaners (usually in the form of large white tablets) into your toilet tank may result in damage to the parts within the tank, especially if you do not flush your toilet at least once a day. Some manufacturers may even void the warranty on those parts. If you chose to use these cleaners, the toilet must be flushed at least once per day. As an alternative, use the in-bowl toilet cleaner rather than the in-tank cleaners.

Since the prior owner did not know about this issue, I had to change the entire gasket and flapper assembly.  This assembly on cost about $5 - $10 at Home Depot or Lowe's.

If the toilet is conventional, the process of changing the gaskets is as follows:

1. Turn off the water supply to the toilet.
2. Flush the toilet to get as much water out of the tank.
3. With some old rags, sop up all the water left in the tank.
4. Loosen and remove two nuts and washers on the two bolts which secure the tank to the bowl.
5. Carefully lift the tank off off the bowl, and set it upside down on the floor.
6. Remove the old gasket from wherever it's stuck, and clean all fragment from the contact areas on both the bowl and bottom of the tank.
7. Unscrew the large nut that holds the flapper assembly onto the tank.
8. Remove the old gasket between the flapper assembly and the tank.
9. Install the new gasket on the flapper assembly.
10. Install the flapper assembly back into the tank by screwing the nub back onto the flapper assembly and tightening it (do not over tighten).
11. Install the new gasket onto the bowl float screw.
12. Remove the bolts and old washers from the tank, and clean the mating surface.
13. Install new washers on the bolts [they go inside the tank, under the bolt heads]
14. Carefully set the tank atop the bowl, being very careful to get perfect alignment on the first try.
15. Reinstall the two bolts with new washers.
16. By hand very carefully reinstall the nuts and washers on the bolts, running them all the way up by hand. 17. With a wrench, very carefully final tighten the nuts, but not too tight as it is very easy to overload the china bowl or tank, resulting in breaking one or both, ruining the entire toilet assembly. The nuts don't have to be extremely tight just up snug so as to just slightly begin to compress the washers.

If all else fails just call a professional or One Call Home Handyman and we will help in any way we can.
If you have any questions please email us at or go to our site at

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Installing A Light Fixture Swag Kit

It seems as thow almost every week I have a customer call to have their dining room chandelier or breakfast room hanging light moved to the center of the dining table.  This type of fixture move is simple and can be accomplished by almost anyone.

Swagging a chandelier or hanging light fixture uses a simple swag kit that is available at both The Home Depot and Lowe's.

These kits include from 12' to 20' of wire, 10' of chain, mounting hooks, toggel bolts and wood retaining screws.  Some also include a switch that is not used in the standard swag installation.  These swag kits range in price from $14 - $25 depending upon the type and finish of the metal on the hook and chain.  Make sure you purchase a swag kit that matches the metal finish of you chandelier and has wire that will also match what is used in your existing fixture.

The process of swaging the fixture is a follows:

  • Mark the center of your table on the ceiling above the table. This will determine where the fixture will hang.  This is done by measuring from the center of the table to 2 of the closest walls that are 90 degrees from each other (write these measurements down).  That way you can use these measurements to mark the ceiling directly above the table that is exactly in the center of your table. 
  • Move the table out of the way so you have access to the ceiling and fixture.
  • Using a ladder measure on the ceiling exactly the same measurements as you did when measuring.  Make a mark on the ceiling where each measurement crosses.  This will give you a mark exactly in the center of your table.
  • Using a 1/2" wood bit and drill, drill a hole in the sheetrock where you made the cross mark.  If the bit goes right through the sheetrock that is OK.  If you hit a ceiling joist that is OK as well, just make sure you do not drill into the joist.  This will determine the type of attachment screw you will use to attach the hanging hook.
  • If the bit went through the sheetrock and did not hit a joist you will use the toggle bolt on your hook.  If you hit a joist you will use the wood screw bolt on you hook.  Both will be supplied in the kit.
  • Now using the mounting hook and screw bolt matching the type of support you have, secure the mounting hook to the ceiling by tightening it until it covers the hole you made in the ceiling with the drill bit.  Screw it until it is tight up the the ceiling.
  • Now go the the fixture and measure the existing chain length and write this down.
  • Taking the new chain from the swag kit and tough one end of the chain to the center of the fixture center attachment point and then pull the chain tight until it touches the mounting hook you just put into the ceiling.  Then allow enough chain to swag from the mark until the center of the swag is about 6" to 8" from the ceiling.  Once you have that point in the middle of the chain, measure from that link to the end of the chain that is touching the fixture attachment point and write that measurement down.
  • Now add the two measurements together and that is how long the new chain needs to be.
  • Once you have measured out that chain length, locate the chain link just after that measurement and that is the link you will need to open and remove.  The chain you just measured is the one you will use to replace the existing chain with.
  • Remove the fixture from the ceiling making sure you have a way to support it either on the table or in a chair.  Make sure not to break any glass bulbs or covers.
  • Once you have the fixture resting on the table or chair you will need to remove the old chain and wire and replace them with the new chain and wire from the kit.  This process requires that you disassemble the fixture, usually at the bottom, opening the wiring box thereby allowing the wire connections to the light arms to be exposed.  Disconnected the old wire from the light arm wires, usually connected with wire nuts, and removed the old wire from the fixture.
  • Once the old wire is removed insert the new wire into the same hole at the top of the fixture and push it through until you can see is at the bottom.  Pull enough wire out so you can make up the connection just as it was when the other wire was removed.  Each bulb arm should have two wires coming out of it, each connected to a corresponding wires from each of the other bulb arms.  These are the hot and neutral wires.
  • You then need to connect one wire from the newly installed wire to the hot and the other to the neutral and wire nut each.  Reinstall the wires back into the wiring box.
  • Once this is done replace the wiring cover to the bottom as it was when you disassembled it.
  • Now you need to install the new chain by opening one of the links and putting it on the hanging ring on the top of the fixture.  Once on the ring bend the chain link back into place.
  • Now stretch the chain out from the fixture and measure out the amount of chain that matched the length of the original chain you first marked down.  Taking the chain link that corresponds with that length, hang the fixture on the mounting hook using that link.
  • Now repeat the above step for the hanger loop that connects to the ceiling mounting bracket.
  • Now snake the new wire through every fourth link until you reach the hanger loop and push the wire through the hole in the hanger loop.
  • Make sure the chain, hanger loop and wire are pushed through the ceiling cover and cover nut.
  • Push the wire through the mounting screw pipe in the junction box and allow all remaining wire to hang out of the junction box.
  • Screw the hanger loop on the mounting screw pipe until it is tight.
  • Cut the wire to the proper length and attach to the ceiling hot and neutral wires.
  • Push the wires into the junction box and replace the cover and cover nut until the cover is tight against the ceiling.
  • Turn the power back on and test the light.

If all else fails just call a professional or One Call Home Handyman and we will help in any way we can.
If you have any questions please email us at or go to our site at

Monday, April 2, 2012

Toilet Valve Adjustment and Water Consumption

Several days ago we got a call from a customer telling us they are having issues with high water consumption and their toilets continually running.

Did you know that as much as 80,000 gallons of water can be wasted each year by an undetected toilet tank leak?

In investigating toilet issues we found that this problem can be caused by either a faulty toilet valve and/or a leaking flapper valve.  To fix these problems there are 2 things you need to check.

1. Check the toilet valve for proper adjustment.

If you happen to have a toilet that has the old type toilet valve with a float that cuts the water off when it reaches a certain level, you can adjust the valve by screwing the adjustment screw into the valve or bend the brass float holder toward the water.  That way you cause the valve to shut off sooner and reduce the level of water in the tank.  If this valve is out of adjustment it will overflow and water will drain into the bowl thereby causing you to use water.

If you happen to have one of the newer type valves you will need to adjust the screw that attaches the float to the cut off valve.  Just turn the screw counter-clockwise to make the float move down toward the water.  This will reduce the amount of water in the tank.

If you make this adjustment and the water continues to drain into the overflow tube, then you need to change the valve.  This is an easy task and can be accomplished in about 30 minutes and for less than $20.  All you need to do is go to your local hardware or do it yourself store (Home Depot or Lowes) and purchase a new valve.  They usually run about $15 - $20 and are very easy to change. 
All you need to do is follow these 12 easy steps and you will save a lot of time, money and water:

a. Turn off the water supply at the wall behind or to the side of the toilet.
b. Flush the toilet and hold the handle down so most of the water goes out of the tank.
c. Put a bowl or catch basin under the water supply line that attaches to the tank to catch the extra water when you remove the water supply line.
d. Remove the water supply line that attaches to the current valve.  This under the water bowl usually to the left or right of the bowl.
e. Unscrew the plastic or metal retaining bolt that holds the valve on under the tank.
f. Remove the old valve and water flow tube.
g. Unscrew the retaining bolt from the bottom of the new valve.
h. Push the new valve into place with force to compress the rubber seal holding it tight until the retaining bolt is in place.
i. Screw the retaining bold on until it is hand tight and then release the valve.  Tighten it about half a turn more.  This should seal the valve to prevent leaks.
j.  Connect the overflow tube to the overflow spout as shown in the direction from the valve supplier
k.  Connect the water supply line to the bottom of the new valve and tighten with a snug fit.  Caution...  DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN AS YOU WILL BREAK THE HOUSING SCREW.
l. Turn on the water and allow the bowl to fill.
m. Check for leaks.  If there are leaks tighten each area as necessary.

2. Check for a leaking flapper valve.

If water is not leaking into the overflow tube but water is leaking into the toilet bowl and continues to run, then the problem is probably the flapper valve.

This is an easy fix as well and can be accomplished in about 20 minutes and for less than $10.  Again, all you need to do is go to you hardware store and purchase a flapper valve replacement kit.  There are in many types so make sure the one you purchase will work on your toilet. After you turn the water supply off, just take the one you have off and take it with you to the supply store so they can help you pick the proper replacement.

Just follow the following steps and you can accomplish this task with ease:

a. Turn off the water supply at the wall behind or to the side of the toilet.
b. Flush the toilet to remove most of the water.
c. Remove the existing flapper valve and take the chain off the flush handle rod.
d. Replace the old with with a new one similar the the one you removed.
e. Insert the new flapper onto the attachment brackets on either side of the overflow tube.
e. Attach the metal chain to the flush handle rod.
f. Turn the water supply on.
g. Allow the tank to fill completely and check to see if the flapper valve is still leaking.  If it is still leaking then the valve supplied by the supply house is not the correct model.

If all else fails just call a professional or One Call Home Handyman and we will help in any way we can.
If you have any questions please email us at or go to our site at

Landscape Lighting Issues

We get a lot of calls from customers telling us they are having issues with their landscape lighting.

After much study and research I have found that most of the issues we have found with these type of low voltage lighting systems is caused by landscapers that are not careful when planting annuals or replacement planting.  They just dig a hole and plant the new plants without regard for landscape light wiring.  While digging the hole for the new plant they cut the landscape wiring and thereby turn your lights off.

If you have only a portion of your lights at one end of your lights that are not working, this is usually the issue.

If only one or two of the lights are out the problem is usually a burned out bulb or bad connection.

The way you repair the cut wire is to locate the cut by pulling the wire between the light that works and the ones that do not to see if it is cut.  Usually this is easy because the cut end will pull out very easily.  If you find the cut, pull the other end from the fixture that is not working and expose the other end of the wire.  You can then use a connector from Home Depot or just strip the cut ends, connect them to each other and wire nut the ends.  This will usually make the other lights come on.

If you feel that the light bulb is bad just go to a fixture that is working and remove the bulb then put that bulb in the fixture that is not working.  If it does not come on check the connection and make sure it is connected properly.  If all is OK with the connection, then you will need to replace the fixture. 

If you determine that the bulb is the problem just get replacements and change them.

If all else fails just call a professional or One Call Home Handyman and we will help in any way we can.
If you have any questions please email us at or go to our site at

Thursday, January 19, 2012

LED Flood Light Replacements

We get a lot of calls from customers telling us they want to change the type of lighting they are getting in their newer homes from the standard 120 watt incandescent down lighting.

After much study and research I have found a replacement bulb at The Home Depot that generates much brighter light and creates a much more pleasant home environment.

The 2 replacement bulbs I recommend are the EcoSmart 16-Watt BR40 LED Flood Light Bulb for standard down cans and the 14-Watt BR30 LED Flood Light Bulb for directional cans. 

The steps for replacing these bulbs are as follows:

1. Count your down cans and directional cans in your home.
2. Purchase your bulbs and try to see if the manager at The Home Depot will give you a discount for these bulbs.  They run between $29 and $35 each but last up to 25,000 hours, use about 20% of the energy of a standard bulb and produce almost no heat.  All of this can save you as much at $250 over the life of the bulb.
3. Remove the existing incandescent flood light.  If the bulb being replaced is the same length as the LED bulb, go to number 6.
4. If you happen to have a short version of the flood, about 1" shorter than the new bulb, you will need to adjust the bulb support inside the can.  This is done by removing the cover from the can, loosening the wing nut that holds the bulb support, move the bracket up toward the top of the can by about 1" and then retighten the retaining wing nut.
5. Once the bulb bracket is secure replace the cover.
6. Install the new LED light bulb and test it to make sure it turns on and off properly.
7. Repeat the first 6 steps on every down can until you have replaced all the bulbs.
8. Discard all replaced bulbs properly as required by your local garbage collection or recycling authority.
9. If you are unable to make any of the above adjustments or steps please call a professional to assist you.

If you have any questions please email us at or go to our site at

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Garbage Disposal Humming, Jammed or Stuck

We get many calls from customers telling us their garbage disposal won't turn on but makes a humming sound when you flip the switch. If you keep trying to turn it on, it won't do that for long because it will probably trip the breaker on the bottom of the disposal.

If you have this problem, it usually means you have a stuck flywheel and the reset button on the unit itself or the fuse or circuit breaker in your electrical service panel will trip and turn off very quickly. The flywheel is stuck because something is lodged between it or the impeller(s) and the shredder ring.

To repair this issue follow these easy steps:

1. Turn off power to the garbage disposal at the electrical service panel.
2. Reminder: Don't ever put your hand down into the garbage disposal hopper (grinding chamber).
3. Take the offset wrench that came with the disposal unit and insert the wrench into the flywheel turning hole in the bottom of the unit. If you don't have the wrench you can pick one up from the hardware store that sells your garbage disposal.
4. Once the wrench is inserted, turn it clockwise to dislodge the stuck impeller or flywheel. When it dislodges, you'll feel the flywheel turn freely.
5. Another approach is to try and use a wooden broom-handle or similar wooden object to free the stuck impeller and flywheel from the top of the unit through the drain.
6. Place the broom-handle into the hopper and against an impeller. Use leverage to try and free the stuck flywheel. As before, when it dislodges you'll feel the flywheel turn freely.
7. Once freed, turn the power back on at the panel but don't turn on the disposal yet.
8. Go back to the disposal and press the reset button.
9. Run some tap water into the disposal and quickly flip the switch on and off turning the disposal on for a short burst. Turn on and off again quickly. That should spin the flywheel and the dislodged obstruction should be washed down the drain.
10. If for some reason the obstruction is being caused by a metal screw or nail you will need to turn the power off again and use a flashlight to locate the item. Once located use a magnet or screw grabber to retrieve the item. Once removed turn the power back on and follow the instrucions in number 9 above.

If you are unable to free the obstruction call a professional to assist you.

If you have any questions please email us at or go to our site at

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Plugs

Seems like almost every day we get a call from a customer with a plug that does not work in their kitchen, bath, or outside their home.  We ask them if they checked their breakers and the response is usually yes and then we ask if they checked their GFCI plug and the response is "What?"

For those that do not know what a GFCI plug looks like an example is shown to the right.

The red button is the reset button and the black is the test. If for some reason you have a short across to the ground on any plug attached to one of these GFCI plugs, the red button will pop out and disconnect the circuit.

To turn the power back on you need to reset the circuit by pussing red button in until it pops. Once reset the power will be restored and the plugs can be used again.

You can also test the circuit by pussing the black test button, which will pop the red one indicating that the plub is working properly. You will then need to reset the plug again so power will be restored.

GFCIs help protect against electrical shocks due to ground faults. They are required by the National Electrical Code (NEC) in all wet or damp locations such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, garages and workshops. Important reminder: GFCIs can become damaged over time, they must be tested monthly to ensure they are providing protection.

If you have one of these plugs pop all the time when you attach an appliance to that circuit the appliance is either bad or the GFCI is weak. 

The best way to test the appliance is to move to another circuit controlled by a GFCI and plug it in.  If it trips that circuit as well you can bet the appliance has an issue and trash it.  Getting electricuted is not fun and can kill you.  Just get rid of the appliance.

If you attach the appliance to another GFCI circuit and the circuit does not trip, then the other GFCI is week or bad and you need to have it replaced by a qualified tradesman...

If you have any questions please email us at or go to our site at