Fixing a Leaky Faucet

From Popular Mechanics...

5 Steps on How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Don't ignore that leaking faucet in your kitchen or bathroom. All those wasted drops of water add up, and the solution can be simple for even an occasional DIYer.

Whether it's the cause of water pooling under your sink, or the annoying dripping sound that keeps you up at night, a leaky faucet is a nuisance that could turn into a full-blown problem if not addressed properly. Fortunately, putting a stop to a leaky faucet, such as the compression faucet in your kitchen, can be surprisingly inexpensive and simple.

Tools you'll need:

• Adjustable wrench; C wrench

• Phillips and/or flat-head screwdriver

• Penetrating oil, such as WD-40 or CRC

• Replacement washers and O-rings

Step 1: Don't make a mess worse by transforming your broken faucet into Old Faithful. Before applying any wrench or screwdriver to your fixture, make sure your water supply is turned off, from the handles over the sink to the knobs underneath that control the water coming in from the main line.

Step 2: Remove any decorative parts of the handle knobs. A simple prying with a flat-head screwdriver will take care of that. Underneath each knob, there will be a screw that mounts the handle to the stem. Unscrew, then gently remove the handle with your flat-head. Using penetrating oil can assist in loosening it, allowing you to take the faucet handle off the stem.

Step 3: Use your wrench to loosen the packing nut. From there you should notice the stem. Remove that as well. Depending on the faucet, some stems pop right off, while others twist off from the valve. Check the removed parts for any damage.

Step 4: If everything is intact at this point, inspect the O-ring and washer inside the valve seat—they could be the reason for your leak. Remove the washer and put a replacement inside the seat.

It's crucial to make sure your replacement washers and O-rings are an exact fit. If you are unsure about either, check the seat to see if the sides fit a cone-shaped or flat washer, and purchase the appropriate type. You may want to take the old O-ring to your local hardware store to verify the correct size. You can also buy a package including many different sizes of O-rings—sometimes it's worth the extra few bucks.

Step 5: From here, carefully reassemble all the parts (in order of washer/O-ring, stem, packing nut, screw, and handle). Slowly and gently turn the knob to test the running water and check to see if you've licked that leak.

If, after all of your hard work, you notice the faucet is still dripping, then the cause may be corrosion in your valve seat. If not cleaned over time, it can produce leaks near the spout. Other potential problems are worn-out seals, loose parts, or, even worse, broken plumbing. If your troubleshooting leads to these areas, or if other sudden complications occur, then it may be time to call a professional plumber.


Changing your car's oil

From PepBoys...

Changing your car's oil yourself is not only a money saver; it's also a lot easier than it sounds! When it comes to automotive maintenance, safety always comes first. So whether you're a first timer or an old hand, go through these instructions to ensure you the safest and most efficient way to perform your oil change.

What You'll Need

Go to Pep Boys to get every thing you need to change your own oil.

4 to 6 quarts of motor oil, (check your owner's manual for the proper SAE viscosity, API performance and quantity required for your car’s engine.)

  • Oil filter.
  • Drain plug socket wrench or open-end wrench (exact size) and oil filter wrench.
  • Large drain pan, at least 5 to 7 quarts in capacity
  • Rags
  • Hand cleaning solution and/or disposable latex gloves
  • Funnel
  • Safety glasses
  • Ramps or Jack Stands

Step 1 - Choose Your Oil

Your owner's manual for your vehicle will recommend a weight and type of oil to be used under normal driving conditions as well as the number of miles that you should drive your vehicle before changing your oil, (drain interval). Oil types include Conventional or Synthetic or High Mileage oil for cars with more the 75,000 miles. However, if you drive mostly under severe conditions such as extreme temperatures, frequent short trips, stop and go traffic or towing and hauling, the extra strain on your engine will necessitate more frequent changes.

The average driver generally doesn't realize it but the vast majority of their driving falls into this category, which is why most mechanics will refer to and change oil by the shorter drain interval recommended by the manufacturer for use in "severe" driving conditions.

Check your owner's manual for special conditions and do not exceed warranty recommendations. FOLLOW YOUR VEHICLE MANUFACTURER'S RECOMMENDATIONS ON OIL VISCOSITY GRADE AND TYPE.

Step 2 - Prepare Your Vehicle

Always be certain to consult your owner's manual for specific safety precautions before climbing under your vehicle.

On the top of the engine you will find a cap that says "Oil". Unscrew the oil filler cap, this helps quickly and completely drain the oil from the engine.

Never use a bumper jack to hold your vehicle up - it is simply too unstable.

Ramps are ideal and much safer. Wheel ramps will tilt the car just enough to allow you to slide underneath. After making sure that you are on level ground, drive your vehicle up onto the wheel ramps so that the front tires are elevated. Set your emergency brake and brace both rear wheels with wheel chock. Put your vehicle in first gear if you have a manual transmission and in Park if you have an automatic transmission.

Cold oil will not drain properly so idle your engine for about 5-10 minutes to bring it to normal operating temperature (never start your engine without oil). Then switch off the engine and raise the hood to locate and loosen the oil filler cap to avoid creating a vacuum. This will allow the oil to drain from the bottom more freely.

Step 3 - Drain the Old Oil

Locate the oil drain plug on the underside of your vehicle. It should be located at the bottom rear end of the engine sump or oil pan. Be sure not to loosen the automatic transmission drain plug by mistake. (It is usually located a bit further back.)

Place the drain pan underneath the drain plug and slightly toward the back. Using your wrench, turn the plug counterclockwise until it rotates freely. Finish removing the plug by hand. At this point, be careful of the oil since it may release rapidly and may be hot. Try not to drop the plug into the pan, but don't worry if you do. Reposition the pan, if necessary, to catch all the dripping oil.

Step 4 - Remove the Oil Filter

Next, loosen the oil filter - which may be warm - by turning it counterclockwise with a filter wrench. Complete the removal by hand, taking care not touch the hot exhaust manifold. The oil filter may be filled with oil and feel slightly heavy, so carefully ease it down and away from the engine and tip its contents into the drain pan.

Step 5 - Replace the Oil Filter

Take a rag and wipe in and around the filter seat on the engine. Then take a new filter and use your finger to apply a light film of new oil to the gasket, (the circular edge of the filter itself). The oil will act as a sealant.

Now gently screw the new filter onto the threaded oil line, turning it clockwise. If it's aligned properly, the filter should thread on easily. Hand-tighten the filter approximately ½ to ¾ of a turn after the gasket makes contact with the mounting surface. Make sure the filter is mounted snugly, but be gentle, don't over tighten.

Be sure to clean the copper gasket and the oil plug. Use a rag to clean old oil or road dirt from the area on the oil pan near the oil plug hole before re-installing the drain plug. Then align and replace the plug. Screw it in by hand, but finish tightening it with your wrench. Tighten the oil drain plug, don't over tighten the oil drain plug.

Step 6 - Add Clean Oil

Use a funnel to pour the new oil into the filler hole on top of the engine (oil spilled onto the engine or exhaust system will stink up the engine; oil spilled onto the exhaust system can even potentially be ignited). Add the recommended number of quarts, from your owner's manual. Check with the dipstick to assure proper fill level. Then replace the oil filler cap and wipe off any spillage.

Once you have the oil level reach the recommended line on the dipstick start the engine. The oil light should go out as soon as the engine is started, if it doesn't, turn off the engine and recheck the oil level on the dipstick. Run the engine for several minutes, then switch it off and check the dipstick once again to assure proper oil level.

Last, but not least, check under the vehicle for leaks. Easier than it sounded, right?

Step 7 - Dispose of Your Used Oil

Thought you were finished? Not quite yet! The final, and in some ways, most important step to your oil change, is the proper disposal of the used oil that you have drained from your vehicle. Used motor oil is highly toxic to the environment and it is of important that it is disposed of in a safe fashion. Transfer the used oil to sealed container and return it to any Pep Boys location, we will be glad to take your used motor oil and properly recycle it.

Cleaning Windows

From Good Housekeeping...

Quick Window-Cleaning Tips
Give dirt the brush-off. We know — going at the glass with the cleaner is the most satisfying part. But before you squeeze that trigger, pull back the blinds or curtains, open the window, and inspect its sill, frame, and tracks for obvious crud and cobwebs. Sweep out debris using the small-handled brush that comes with your dustpan. (Skip this step, and you risk a mess later, since the loose dirt can stick to your wiping towel and smear the glass.) Also handy: a cloth-wrapped screwdriver for flicking out dead bugs or hard-to-reach gunk.

1. De-grime the screens. If you leave yours in year-round, give them a once-over now — otherwise, all that dried-on dirt may blow into your house the first time you open the windows for ventilation. The good news: You don't need to take down the screens and hose them off. Just run your vacuum with its dusting-brush attachment over the side that faces in. (Side to side, top to bottom is the speediest method.)

2. Make the glass gleam. For windows that tilt in, washing both sides is a cinch. Spray your cleaner on the inside of the glass until it's heavily misted but not drippy. Then, with a clean lint-free cloth, wipe horizontally until dry. Tilt the window the other way; repeat on the outer panes, but this time wipe vertically (cleaning in opposite directions makes streaks obvious and easier to zap). For double-hung windows that don't fold in, slide the bottom pane up about eight inches — so you can reach out and up. Clean what you can; then slide down the top panel to get it from above. Windows crank out or don't open at all? Clean the insides, then rinse the outsides with a hose.

Make It Easier Next Time
    •    Pick a cloudy day. Direct sun makes the cleaner dry too quickly, leaving streaks behind.
    •    Choose your weapons wisely. GHRI tested a variety of products (six store-bought window cleaners, one homemade solution, three premoistened wipes, and four wiping tools: paper towel, newspaper, micro­fiber cloth, and squeegee). The most effective combo? Hope's Perfect Glass with a microfiber cloth.

Mowing your lawn

From Scott's...

Tip 1: Set Your Mower High

Set your mower at the highest preferred setting for your grass type, cutting only the top 1/3 of the grass blades at any one time. Why? Because properly mowed grass can grow and support more roots and develop a deeper root system to find water and nutrients in the soil. Cutting too aggressively, or scalping the lawn, forces grass plants to re-grow their blades, not deepen roots, and also makes your lawn more prone to weeds.

Hint: Most grass types prefer your mower set to the one of the highest settings, providing a 3-4 inch cut. Zoysiagrass and centipedegrass prefer a middle mower setting, while bermudagrass and creeping bentgrass thrive a one of the lowest mower settings.

Tip 2: Mow a Dry Lawn

Wait for your lawn to dry before mowing. Cutting wet grass can result in an uneven cut. Wet clippings can clog your mower, too, dumping clumps of grass on your lawn which can smother the grass and result in brown spots.

Tip 3: Vary Your Mowing Pattern

Mow in a different direction every time you mow. By varying the mowing pattern, you help avoid compacting soil. Plus, grass will stand up nice and tall since it typically leans in the direction you mow.

Tip 4: Mow As Needed

Mow only as often as needed for your grass type, growing conditions, growth pattern and season. In spring, that may mean twice a week. In summer, you may only have to mow every other week.

Tip 5: Wait for a Good Mowing Height with a New Lawn

Mow new seedlings when they've reached a mowing height. Do not cut more than the top 1/3 of the grass blades. A dramatic cutting can shock and stress new grass plants, slowing down the growth of your new lawn.

Tip 6: Leave Grass Clipping on your Lawn

Leave grass clippings on your lawn, when possible. If you mow at the right height as often as needed, clippings break down quickly, contributing nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil.

Hint: If you do bag clippings, toss them in the garden as mulch or compost them?but only if you?ve not used any lawn weed control products. Do not use clippings treated with weed control products in the garden for 1 year.

Tip 7: Keep Your Mower Blade Sharp

Keep mower blades sharp for the cleanest cut, sharpening at the first sign of wear. Dull blades tear up grass, causing a grayish-brown color.