31. Spot asbestos
Can't always tell by looking, but there are likely places you'll find the carcinogenic mineral fiber, widely used in homes built before 1970. If your pipe and water-heater insulation resembles troweled-on plaster, don't even touch it—the tiny particles get airborne quite quickly. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, asbestos may also be in the metal used for these pipes and furnaces, as well as in other kinds of insulation, artificial ashes in gas fireplaces, ceiling tiles, cement siding shingles, textured paint, patching compounds, and vinyl floor tiles made before 1986.

Undisturbed, the material shouldn't pose a risk. But to be safe, you should have a licensed and bonded asbestos abatement contractor encapsulate or remove it.

Ask This Old House: Lead and Asbestos Removal

32. Keep grout, cement, or plaster from roughing up your hands
Clean your hands with lemon juice or vinegar. The acid neutralizes the caustic alkalinity in these materials and keeps skin from drying out.

33. Paint a double-hung window
Toss the blue tape. Your number-one tool is a 1 1/2- to 2-inch sash brush. Its angled bristles come to a point, giving you a fine line. Raise the bottom sash and lower the top sash so they've almost switched places.
1) Paint the exposed parts of the top sash (now on the bottom), including the muntins.
2) Carry a thin line of paint onto the glass to seal the glazing. Next, nearly close the window and
3) paint the rest of the top sash, as well as
4) the entire bottom sash, without getting paint between the sash and the stops (the pieces of wood in front that hold them in place).
5) Then paint the casing, sill, and apron. Before the paint dries, move the sash up and down. "If you can't see a clear crack between the sash and the stop because of wet paint," says Tom Silva, "then you just glued the window shut."

TOH's Exclusive Paint Calculator for Windows

34. Secure a loose screw
You'll need to fill in the hole before you can get the screw back in tight. The best filler is more wood, held in place with yellow carpenter's glue. Matchsticks, toothpicks, golf tees, packed in tightly, will do the trick. But better yet is a piece of 3/8-inch dowel. First, use a 3/8-inch drill bit to enlarge the hole. Cut off a small length of dowel with a utility knife or small saw. Dab it with glue and tap it into the hole. When the glue is dry, use a chisel or the saw to slice off the excess. Then drill a new hole and reattach the hardware. And put those golf tees to their intended use.

Sure Cure for Loose Hinges

35. Repair a doorbell
A doorbell has three parts—the switch, the bell, and a transformer between them. If you don't hear anything when you press the button, check the switch's wire connections (no worries the voltage is too low to hurt you). Try touching the two wires together; if the bell rings, then you need to replace the switch. If the chime doesn't ring or makes a funny noise, check the bell. Clean it, inspect the wiring, and make sure the hammer isn't bent away from the bell or jammed by dirt. If you still don't hear that welcoming ring-a-ling, then it's likely the transformer is the problem. To fix that, you'll need an electrician.
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