36. Open a door with no knob
The key is engaging the spindle—the four-sided bar connected to the knob that retracts the bolt or latch. If the knob is off but the spindle is still sticking out, use pliers to grip and turn it. But if the spindle has fallen irretrievably on the far side of the door, find a suitable substitute—say, a large flathead screwdriver or even a fat pen. Fit it tightly into the spindle hole and turn.

37. Work safely on an extension ladder
Unless your last name is Wallenda, don't try any acrobatics high up—184,000 people were injured last year working on ladders.

Make sure the ladder's rung locks (those hooks that grab onto the rungs) are anchored in place and the pulley rope is tied to a rung. Use levelers on the feet if you're on uneven ground and a stabilizer at the top if you can't lean on anything sturdy. To set it at the right angle, stand with your toes at the ladder's feet and extend your arms straight out in front of you; your fingertips should brush the ladder's rails.

Face the ladder as you ascend or descend, and never climb higher than the fourth rung from the top. Once there, keep your hips centered between the side rails as you work. This is one situation in which you don't want to overreach.

Ladder Safety Tips

38. Stop an overflowing toilet
A toilet works by gravity: The water in the tank—just enough to fill the bowl—drops down and pushes waste through the drain. The float drops, opening a valve that lets in water to refill the bowl and the tank simultaneously. The valve closes when the float rises far enough to shut off the water.

If the water from the tank can't leave the bowl fast enough, then the refill will spill over. To stop the refill action, take off the top of the tank, grab the float, and pull it up to close the valve. That should give you time to reach down and shut off the water, or at least wait for some of the water in the bowl to drain.

Stop Toilet Overflows

39. Pick up a big paint spill on carpet
Cut two pieces of cardboard from a box. Use the edges of the cardboard to corral the pool of paint. Then use the pieces to form a scoop, and lift the liquid back into the bucket. When most of the liquid has been cleared, get two more buckets—one with fresh water and one empty. Saturate the remaining spill with the clean water, then scrape and scoop it up with a fat spoon and put it in the empty bucket. Work fast and continuously, replenishing the clean water as necessary. Rent a carpet cleaner to follow up; just be sure to keep the paint spot wet until it gets there.

40. Pull out a nail without marring trim
Use a block of wood as a fulcrum under the claw of your hammer. The additional height will give you more leverage and the hammer head will push against the block without damaging the trim.
Ask TOH users about Home & Real Estate

Contribute to This Story Below