10-Minute Home Repairs


If the title made you smirk, you’re probably a veteran do-it-yourselfer. You know that most home repairs touted as 10-minute jobs can easily take three times that given Murphy’s Law. The following 10 micro-projects, however, really do take 10 minutes. Waiting for water to boil for your morning cup of tea? You can do any one of these home repairs in the process … and then reward yourself with the tea!

1. Silence a Rattling Door

If an open window makes a door chatter Morse code, grab medium Philips and slot head screwdrivers, two pairs of pliers and a washcloth. Use a screwdriver to remove the doorknob’s strike plate (the metal square on the jam that reinforces the bolt hole). See the tang, or the lip that curls into the hole? Wrap the strike plate in the cloth (to avoid marring it) and use the pliers to bend the tang a half-centimeter toward the hole’s center. Repeat and bend further until the rattling stops.

2. Strengthen a Weak Kitchen Chair

A dowel connecting two legs pulled out of its socket, inviting wobbling and spinal discomfort? Put a dab of glue on its end, force the dowel into its hole and lash the legs tight with a belt. Use a drill to slowly run a small screw into the leg (at 45 degrees) so it penetrates the freshly glued dowel inside. Voila! You’ve restored the mortise and tenon integrity on the side stretcher.

3. Re-Stick Peeling Wallpaper

Paste a minor curl down with adhesive, smooth it with a damp sponge and run painter’s tape on the seam. Remove the tape after 24 hours.

4. Bury a Popped Sheetrock Nail

Hammer it deep into the sheetrock with a nail set. Drive in a screw just below it to make sure this doesn’t happen again; give the screw a slight countersink. Apply a dab of spackle and paint.

5. Hide a Wood Scratch

Snag your kid’s huge crayon box and find the one closest to the wood’s hue. Try to color out the gouge; sometimes it works. No cigar? Take the crayon to a hardware store and get a scratch repair pen that’s slightly lighter.

6. Kill a Musty Odor

If your garage or basement reeks, buy a big bag of plain charcoal (not the stuff that lights without fluid), lay it flat in an inconspicuous spot and cut a large square out of the bag. Let it suck up stink. Replace every six months.

7. Lube a Stubborn Lock

Don’t use WD-40; liquid attracts dust. Use graphite powder.

8. Mend a Hose

Pick up a few couplers that’ll fit your garden hose. The next time you slice it with the mower or otherwise spring a leak, grab one for a quick fix.

9. Install a USB Outlet Charger

Or three-prongers if your home is ancient. Yes, your first one will take longer than 10 minutes, but your fourth will be a display of mastery. Shut off your power at the circuit breaker and follow the directions. Tip: You can’t swap out a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) safety outlet (the ones with test and reset buttons) for a USB.

10. Change Your Furnace Filter

I know. Not a fix. Not an upgrade. Boring. I’d probably rather watch the water boil. But as far as incredibly quick, simple household jobs go, you can’t beat its bang for the buck. (With the exception of changing the smoke detector batteries twice a year during daylight savings, like your local news lady tells you.) Change the filter every one to four months, depending on its type. You’ll breathe cleaner air, save energy and prevent expensive furnace problems.