Green Wednesday: 10 Items to Repair Rather than Replace

From on May 28, 2008 in Tools and Tips

old fenceWhether you are living in an older home and you want to preserve the historic appeal, or you want to save money, or you just like to tinker and do it yourself, here are 10 things you can either repair yourself or have repaired, which may save you a bundle of cash. Also, saving what you have reduces waste and environmental stress.

  1. Woodwork. Especially in older homes, older woodworking is often sturdier than its modern counterpart. If wood is fading or scuffed, consider refinishing the wood surface rather than replacing the product altogether.
  2. Torn window screens. You can easily fix these with transparent duct tape so that repairs will be hardly noticeable.
  3. Patio Furniture can take quite a beating from the weather. If you want to make old patio furniture look new, apply some automotive paste wax. If you’ve got a filthy plexiglass tabletop, try spraying it with vinegar, letting it sit for a few minutes, and wiping it off.
  4. Squeaky Stair Treads. Usually that annoying squeak you hear every time you walk up and down the stairs is fairly easy to fix. Typically a tread (that part which you actually step on) has come loose, either through bowing or cupping, from the stringer beneath. The fix can be as easy as finding exactly where the squeak is coming from and screwing the tread down until it is tight against the stringer once more.
  5. Fencing. If you’ve got an old wood fence that looks grayed and weathered, check the condition of the wood. If the wood is in an overall good condition then there is no need to replace the fence. You can replace a few boards here or there. You may be able to power wash the fence if you’d like to rejuvenate that “like new” look and refinish the surface to make it last this time.
  6. The same goes for wood decks. Wood products often look worse than they really are. Sure sometimes there is just too much rot and wear to contend with, but don’t be so quick to tear it all up. A careful inspection of the deck framing and decking itself will answer your questions, even for the novice eye. Again, power washing and refinishing will be the secret to your success.
  7. Carpets. Quite often you can save bundles of money by thinking twice before replacing your carpet. Granted, if your carpet is upwards of 15-20 years old and showing serious signs of wear, then it is likely time for a new one. But if your carpet is in fairly good shape with typical signs of wear (ripping, bulging, or otherwise loose), try contacting a contractor who specializes in carpet repair. They can actually re-stretch your carpet to refasten it to the tack strips and leave your carpet feeling new again.
  8. Siding. In many cases, from wood-lap to stucco, it is much more cost effective to repair rather than replace siding. With wood you may be able to replace boards here and there, clean, and repaint. With stucco, you may have to hire a mason to do the work, but you can save lots of cash—even on some seemingly desperate projects.
  9. Cracked Porcelain Sink. Use an epoxy adhesive, which you can find at your local hardware store. Be sure to follow the directions carefully, make sure the surface is completely dry, and use a toothpick to fill the crack with epoxy.
  10. Appliances. Lastly, it can’t hurt to check into the cost of repair for your refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher, microwave, even toaster oven, before you toss it out. Homeowners are often too quick to throw out appliances without considering repair as a viable option. In almost any city or town you can find someone who would love to tinker with your appliances, whether it be a vacuum cleaner or an air conditioner. Sometimes the cost of repair can be too close to the cost of a new appliance, but at least you tried. If the cost is close to the same, purchasing a newer, energy efficient model may be your best bet.