Home Improvement Gone Wrong

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Home Improvement Gone Wrong
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DIY projects are the reason you bolt out of bed on a Saturday morning to get a jump on the line at the home improvement store. There isn't a fence, floor, door or sink that you cannot mend, lay, frame or unclog. Well, at least you'd like to think that's the case when your significant other gazes upon you with unfettered expectation. Despite a gamer mentality, some jobs require research and careful preparation. Others require a pro.

Deckmate
Photo courtesy Mosbybuildingarts.com

Deckmate

It is the outdoor extension of your home, the place where you take advantage of summer and get away from it all – even those from your own household. The deck. And what screams DIY more than slapping a few boards together and nailing them to the side of the house? But that is precisely where many homespun deck projects fail. Structural integrity and load support are critical -- without the proper hardware, your weenie roast could end up slip sliding away.

If a Tree Falls
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If a Tree Falls

Your neighbor has pestered you from day one to cut down that majestic oak in your back yard. But...it provides shade, and you simply don't count yourself in league with tree haters. Neighborly you are, though, so you give your teenage son a boost and ask him to shear off a limb or two only to see them crash through your roof. If you gotta climb, don’t do the time. Call a pro instead.

Out of Plumb
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Out of Plumb

What could be easier than loosening a pipe to get at a clogged drain? Or getting a new fitting for a leaky faucet? Like most projects, anything is easy when you know how, but plumbing is notorious for pulling you into a problem so far that both your head and your bedroom end up under water. By all means, tighten a wobbly toilet handle, but think twice about sweating pipes unless you know how. And always get acquainted with your shut-off valves.

Hard Wiring
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Hard Wiring

Like plumbing, some wiring fixes seem simple. A snip here and a twist there, and you’ve got a new light switch. But wiring can get very complicated, very quickly. Proceed with caution, respect for electricity's power and concern for your personal wellbeing. Always shut off power to the circuit and confirm that the power is off before handling wires.

A Long Bath
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A Long Bath

So...you lust after the claw foot tub where you spent hours during that weekend trip to the B&B. Your husband is practicing his sledgehammer swing just a little too enthusiastically. Before he demos the vanity, make sure the door will accommodate your Victorian dream tub and the floor will support it once you've got it in place.

When Ladders Fall
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When Ladders Fall

What could be simpler? Climb the ladder, hang the Christmas lights, replace a roof tile, get the cat out of the tree. But each year in the U.S., more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries are related to ladders, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Common mistakes including using a ladder ill-suited to the task, which usually means too short, and not setting it on a level and firm surface.

Foot through Ceiling Disease
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Foot through Ceiling Disease

It’s a weekend job straight off the honey-do list. Head to the attic to replace the insulation or find the holiday decorations or retrieve an old projector. And although there may be supports here and there, crossing the attic requires a delicate dance atop the joists. So before you rush to your task, lay out a plywood path. You'll thank us when you don't plunge through the living room ceiling, boots first.

It Does Not Smell Like Victory
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It Does Not Smell Like Victory

If the distinctive odor were not added to natural gas, you could sit there blissfully ignorant as gas leaked from a faulty line. Until someone lit a smoke and the house blew up. That would get anyone's attention. That smell is meant to protect you and yours from disaster. Do not poke around looking for the source of the leak. Leave the house at the first whiff, and call your natural gas supplier from a safe distance.

Volts, Bolts and Fires
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Volts, Bolts and Fires

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that 280 deaths and 1,000 injuries are caused by electrical fires each year. Electrical system failure is identified as one cause, but so are overloaded circuits, faulty extension cords and improperly installed wiring. So this isn’t a call to look behind the tile and find out why the garbage disposal turns on when you run the dishwasher, but you should get rid of that extension cord running under the rug to your entertainment center.

Water, Water, Everywhere
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Water, Water, Everywhere

You find yourself having the same thought each summer as the temps climb higher and your backyard offers nothing but a small patch of shade: It would be great to have a pool.You finally fall prey to your dream and spring for an above ground pool -- and not the Mr. Froggy wading model but the super deluxe half-an-ocean monster. Careful: installing an above-ground pool requires significant planning and preparation. Unless you want to wash away your yard and your neighbor’s, you may want to consider professional installation.

Toilet as Time Bomb
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Toilet as Time Bomb

Problems like these happen at the best times – in the middle of the night, when you’re out of town, during the holiday dinner. Even standard toilets are surprisingly sophisticated these days, and pressure-assistend toilets are even more complex. In mid-2012, an estimated 2.3 million toilets with the Flushmate III flushing system were recalled due to a malfunction that could cause the toilets to literally explode. An exploding toilet sounds funny until you're on it.

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