JustAnswer Blog: Home Repair

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Dwarf grapefruit tree in a pot, no flowers or fruit yet.

A dwarf grapefruit tree. (Photo: Flickr/C Jill Reed)

The best way to assess grapefruit ripeness: timing

Q: I have a dwarf grapefruit tree (ruby red grapefruit) in my apartment and it has one huge grapefruit growing on it. It's late January and the fruit has been growing for a couple of months now (hasn't changes size since November) and is some shade of greenish yellow. The size seems...

Porcelain bathroom sink viewed from above.

(Photo: Flickr/CJ Matulewicz)

Our new porcelain sink has two cracks. Will it leak?

January 28, 2013

Q: We recently installed a new sink (porcelain) in our rental house. It was the top of the line and expensive. Yesterday I noticed two cracks coming from the drain. They are not all the way through but a little deeper than surface. Can these be repaired? If not, will the sink leak?...

Concrete and masonry steps with lush lawnscaping on either side.

(Photo: Flickr/ARNOLD Masonry and Concrete)

Can I make my concrete stairs safer in case of a fall?

Q: I'm trying to make my home safer for my elderly mother. The front and back steps are concrete. Is there some type of coating that I can apply to make them softer in case she falls?

A: Well, you could install indoor/outdoor carpet on them. It will help some, but...

corner of baby's room with decorative wall border separating two paint colors.

(Photo: Flickr/Ted Johnson)

The best adhesive for a wall border

Q: I am having trouble getting a wall border to stick. I've tried regular wallpaper paste and Elmer's glue, and nothing seems to work. What do you recommend?

A: I've encountered this issue before and wound up finally having success by using 3M Super 77 spray contact...

Man sitting on stairs holding a paintbrush, with white paint stains on arm.

Great idea for a side business. (Photo: Flickr/Erich Ferdinand)

How should I price my painting services?

Q: I am retired and a good handyman. I'm also a very good painter. I am trying to make some extra money for Christmas by painting rooms in people's homes. The problem is that I don't know what to charge them. Should it be by one coat or two (I always get best results with two coats)? Or...

View from staircase leading into a carpeted, finished basement.

Cozy finished basement. (Photo: Flickr/Sage Ross)

Tips for ceiling insulation in a finished basement

Q: My husband and son are finishing our basement. We are getting ready to insulate the ceiling for sound and fireproofing. What is the right fire/sound insulation to meet codes if we ever want to use the area for income property? (The floor joists in the basement ceiling are 2x8.)...

Plunger above the disposal in a dirty sink.

(Photo: Flickr/Kung Pao Cowboy)

My garbage disposal smells bad. What can I do?

Q:  My garbage disposal smells bad. I have tried putting lemons down it, but it doesn't help. The disposal is also connected to the dishwasher via a hose.

A: There are several steps you can try. First, put the stopper in your sink drain and run a full sink of hot water,...

Coyote standing in the grass, glaring menacingly at the camera.

Good luck collecting a specimen from this coyote. (Photo: Flickr/Bill Weaver)

Tricks to keep raccoons away from your home

October 29, 2012

Q: Does coyote urine keep raccoons away?

A: Any predator urine -- especially male predator urine -- will tend to keep raccoons away, for a while at least. Once the raccoons get used to it and see no coyotes, they will be back if there is food, water, or shelter available...

Three yellow roses as part of a shrub.

Not as fragile as they look. (Photo: Flickr/T. Kiya)

How do I get shrub roses ready for winter?

October 15, 2012

Q: How do I prepare shrub roses for winter?

A: Shrub roses need very little winter protection. Perhaps add about 4 inches of mulch around the base and give them a last shot of fertilizer before it freezes.

Of course if they are located where real high wind will...

Gray mobile home in a green, wooded clearing.

(Photo: Flickr/Peter Van den Bossche)

Which furnace is best for my mobile home?

October 01, 2012

Q: I have a single wide mobile home 14x80 with 4" walls and vinyl siding. The furnace (2000 Coleman 56,000 BTU) is old, runs constantly, and is costing too much to heat my home (in rural Minnesota). Will a Nordyne (Maytag label) 90,000 BTU 80% efficient furnace be a good choice?...