The saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." They should have added, "But if it's loose, fix it now."
"Anything that's loose will only accelerate wear and tear and increase the likelihood of a more extensive and expensive repair," says Adam Novick, an owner of Alper's Hardware in Port Washington. "Be proactive to save money, time and avoid safety hazards."
Below are eight of the most common types of household items you can tighten up this weekend:
First check front doors, side doors, bedroom doors and kitchen cabinets. See if they are sagging or rubbing the door frame. If they are, it could be because the hinges have loosened. Tighten the screws with a screwdriver to realign the door. "If the screws are still wobbly," Novick warns, "the screws or the holes they are in may have become stripped and lost their grip completely. In that case, you may have to move the hinges to a new position, or install screws long enough to find solid material," he says. Buying a bigger screw can sometimes create a bigger problem, says James Pecoraro, owner of Sea Cliff Paint and Hardware in Sea Cliff. He suggests it sometimes may be better to correct the problem with wood filler (less than $3), make new holes and use the screw size that was originally made for the door or closet. Another useful product is Lock Tight (less than $5), he says.
If you've gotten used to kicking a weak table leg straight, your dinner will eventually careen to the floor. "The problem may be as basic as tightening the fasteners between the legs and the table," Novick says. "If that's not enough, felt or gripping pads can level out leg heights and prevent wear and tear on floors."
Chair legs don't necessarily have screws to tighten like a table leg does. To fix, Novick suggests, you may need to buy wood swell (about $6), which makes the wood expand when you apply it. Upon reassembling, the leg joint becomes more stable.
DOORKNOBS AND HANDLES
Tighten screws that connect handles to the door or to each other. Securitywise it's not safe to have a loose keyed entry, and friction caused by wobbling leads to more damage, Novick says.
Continuing to use loose handles on your plumbing fixtures creates excessive wear and tear on the stem (what the handle goes onto), Novick says. Eventually you may have trouble turning the water all the way on or off. Novick says: "Most faucet handles can be secured by a set screw at its base, or with a screw hidden under the cap that says Hot or Cold."
PICTURES AND MIRRORS
Be cautious of anything that is hung on a hollow wall like drywall or plaster because it's prone to loosening. "To prevent an accident, be sure to buy a proper hollow wall anchor , as well as toggles and mollys," Novick says. There are different styles and sizes that depend on what you are hanging and how much it weighs.
Pecoraro says, "Be sure to check the security of the joints, screws and anchors located at the top, bottom and sometimes middle of the railing." The spindles (vertical poles going up and down the staircase) are usually for decorative purposes in metal or wood, and are stabilized by cement. Loose steps, he notes, can usually be repaired with special flooring nails reinforced into the sides of the step.
COAT HOLDERS, TOWEL RACKS, TOILET PAPER HOLDERS
These also should be hung with the proper types of toggles, mollys and anchors. These items are likely to loosen because they are used daily.