15. Hardwire a light fixture
Anything powered by electricity requires that the current make a full circuit to and from the main box. So all the wiring in a house has two lines: one that brings in the electricity (the hot wire) and one that carries it back (the neutral wire). Connect hot wires to each other and neutrals to each other. And just make sure you don't become the conduit in between.

The hot is usually black and the neutral white. But if yours look different, use a circuit tester. With the electricity on, touch one node of the tester to the wire and the other to something metal—that is NOT touching you. If the light goes on, that's your hot wire.

Turn off the electricity and connect the black ("hot") wire to the black wire or the brass screw on your fixture and the white (neutral) to white wire or silver screw. If your fixture has two like-colored wires, the grooved one always goes to the neutral connection. Be sure to connect the copper grounding wire from the cable to the green grounding screw in the junction box, then to the grounding wire coming from the fixture, if there is one.

Hanging a Chandelier

16. Pick an interior lock
Your 2-year-old is in the bedroom bawling, you're out in the hall, and there's a locked door between you. On the door's knob or on the plate around it, there should be a small hole that's made just for this situation. Take a slim piece of metal, such as a small flathead screwdriver, and slip it in the hole. Compress the spring inside or slip the screwdriver head into the slot on the spring and turn. Door unlocked, toddler safe, shoulder not broken.

17.Unstick a door
"Doors stick for a lot of reasons: a loose hinge, too much paint, a settling house, or humidity in the air," says TOH general contractor Tom Silva. If the door suddenly jams in dry weather, your problem is the hinge, likely a loose screw. A door that's been painted too much or is sticking because the house is settling can be sanded or planed at the trouble spot, then repainted.

If the door is swelled by humidity—often a front door or bathroom door—it's usually because part of it wasn't painted and moisture is getting into the wood; check the top and bottom edges. Shave down the door as little as possible to make it just fit. "Normally you want a crack the width of a nickel around a door, but in this case make it a dime," says Tom. Then paint over any exposed wood on all six sides to seal it. When the humidity lessens, the door will shrink to a perfect fit, opening without a hitch.

Unsticking a Metal Door
Sliding Door Tune-up

18. Bypass the electric garage-door opener when the power is out
That red cord dangling from the ceiling-mounted operator—haven't you always wanted to pull it? Now's the time. Doing so disengages the chain drive, so you can manually slide the door up its track.

19. Clean stained grout
"All grout can be cleaned," says Debby Parker, a contractor who bills herself as The Tile Lady. Her secret weapon: a steam cleaner, which brings most any stain to the surface so it can simply be wiped away. Brushing on a penetrating sealer will keep the grout stain-free.

All About Grout
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