JustAnswer Blog: Home Repair

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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?...

View of garage door opener on the ceiling of a garage.

(Photo: Flickr/ecnerwal)

My garage door opener only works sometimes. Why?

Q: My Genie Intellicode garage door opener works intermittently. At times the unit just clicks when any remote or wall switch is hit. Other times it works correctly. What's the problem?

A: The clicking noise typically means that you have a bad logic board, and it could be...

Flowering zucchini lying beneath green stems. (Photo: Flickr/ezioman)

This plant looks healthy. (Photo: Flickr/ezioman)

The powdery killer of zucchini plant leaves

August 28, 2012

Q: The leaves on my zucchini plants have developed a white powdery substance on them. The stem of the leaf is getting the same powder and then rots.  The zucchinis themselves seem to be OK.  Do I need to add nutrients, or is it OK to cut off the affected leaves?

A: It...

White tile floor with two pairs of empty shoes. (Photo: Flickr/Mireille Raad)

Clean enough for bare feet. (Photo: Flickr/Mireille Raad)

How do I clean white grout stained by ammonia?

Q: I have a ceramic tile floor that has self-sealing white grout. I spilled ammonia on it, and it stained the grout. How do I fix this?

A: The ammonia has reacted chemically with the grout. There is no cleaner that will get rid of the stain. Your only option is to scrape...

Burning bush at the side of a house.  (Photo: Flickr/Jim Holmes)

This bush will be blazing red in the fall. (Photo: Flickr/Jim Holmes)

How to prune a burning bush in summer

August 02, 2012

Q: I have burning bushes that grow along the back of my house, and they've become overgrown. I've heard that you can't prune in the summer -- is that true? Also the backs of the bushes (against the house) are dead -- is it lack of sunlight?

A: Yes, you can prune in the...