From the Magazine

5 DIY Fixes That Will Cut Out the Handy Man

Home appliance on the fritz? Before you pick up the phone to call in a handy man that might cost you hundreds of dollars, try these easy, expert-approved DIY fixes that can not only save you money, but a headache, too.

Speed a Slow Drain With a Plunger

Is your stubbornly-sluggish kitchen drain stressing you out? First, pour hot water (never boiling, since PVC pipes aren’t fabricated to withstand extreme temperatures) down your sink to melt any clogged grease and break up debris.

Then, push a plunger ($7.95, Amazon) down over the drain to create a tight seal and make a quick, sharp pull up. The up-and-down motion will dislodge the debris, helping break it up so it’s easier to push through the pipe.

Fix Oven-Temperature Hiccups With a Gentle Pull

If you’ve noticed your oven isn’t reaching the set temperature, “check the temperature sensor probe,” urges Jeff Campbell of Kitchen Appliance HQ. It’s a thin metal tube in the upper-rear part of your oven that gauges the oven’s heat. “It can easily get pushed against the oven wall, making it read the temperature of the metal instead, which throws it off,” he explains.

By gently pulling the probe away from the wall, you’ll get an accurate air reading again!

Nix Washing Machine Errors With a Vinegar Rinse

Frustrated by an error message on your washing machine’s control panel? Try a little vinegar ($11.98, Amazon).

“If your machine has a wire mesh debris filter [on the bottom front of the machine], remove it and soak it in vinegar for one hour,” says Aaron Massey of MrFixItDIY.com. “Otherwise, run an empty load and pour 1 cup of vinegar into the bleach compartment.”

Vinegar’s acid will eat lime buildup in the machine’s filter, clearing the error.

Revive a Dead Microwave With Baking Soda

If your microwave won’t turn on or shuts off before the cooking time is up, gunk is likely the culprit, reveals Campbell. “Food particles often build up on the door or hinges, creating a tiny fraction-of-an-inch gap that triggers the microwave’s door-open sensor, shutting it off.”

The fix? “Sprinkle a moist sponge with baking soda ($3.08, Amazon) and rub the door frame and hinges,” Campbell advises. “This will help create a tight seal again.”

Close a Stuck Garage With a Burst of Air

If your automatic garage door won’t close, blame dirty sensors — two tiny devices that emit an invisible laser to stop the door from closing on someone. If dirt blocks the beam, your door won’t shut. Just spray canned air on the lens with an aerosol cleaner, like Ultra Duster ($39.95, Walmart), which will gently blow away the dirt.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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