Pinterest Shares Fall as U.S. Monthly Average Users Decline | Sidnaz Blog

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Pinterest reported Thursday second-quarter net income of $69.4 million, compared with a loss of $100.7 million a year earlier.



Photo:

Gabby Jones/Bloomberg News

Shares of

Pinterest Inc.


PINS -6.01%

fell more than 14% in after-hours trading, as the online sharing platform said its monthly average users in the U.S. contracted during the quarter, a trend that accelerated this month.

The company reported 91 million monthly average users in the U.S. in the quarter, down 5% from a year earlier. Pinterest said that “engagement headwinds” continued this month, with monthly average users down 7% as of July 27. Globally, monthly average users increased 9% in the quarter.

“Our second quarter results reflect both the strength of our business and the recent shift in consumer behavior we’ve seen as people spend less time at home,” Chief Executive

Ben Silbermann

said in prepared remarks.

Pinterest saw its user growth soar during the pandemic, as shut-in consumers turned to the website for masks and other products. The company has said the pandemic may have pulled forward some user growth.

The company also reported Thursday second-quarter net income of $69.4 million, compared with a loss of $100.7 million a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings were 25 cents a share. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting adjusted earnings 13 cents a share.

Revenue totaled $613.2 million, compared with $272.5 million a year earlier. Analysts expected $562 million in revenue.

Pinterest shares closed Thursday at $72.04 apiece, down 6%. So far this year, the stock is up 9.32%.

Write to Robert Barba at [email protected]

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Get The Most Out of Your Vacuum Cleaner With These Tricks | Sidnaz Blog

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Vacuums suck! Or rather, problems arise when they stop sucking.

Because there are so many moving parts that can get clogged with dirt and dust, vacuums often lose their power quickly. The video above shows easy ways to clean out the vacuum’s hose, detangle hair from the rollers, and freshen the air while you clean.

But wait! There’s more!

If you ever felt that your vacuum is too powerful, there’s also ways to hack the vac (trademark Lifehacker.com, 2019) to pick up small objects you may have spilled, or suck up dust from tiny areas like keyboards and plugs.

This article was originally published on August 14, 2019, and updated on July 15, 2021.

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How to Build Your Own Rain Barrel | Sidnaz Blog

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My sustainable homestead is evolving—and the new addition to the ever-growing project involves using rain barrels to provide my chickens with drinking water, irrigate my garden, and keep my compost pile moist.

Luckily for me, my local municipality teamed up with our state college to offer residents classes and incentives to help grow our community’s conservation effort (you can check with your local government to see if they offer anything similar). Through the program, I was able to purchase a 55-gallon rain barrel for just $37—a deal so good I opted to purchase three barrels. The barrels were guaranteed to be food-grade, which meant I avoided the toxic residuals that might have been lurking in any old barrel. Instead, my barrel had been used exclusively to store juice, so it was actually designed to withstand both the pressure and weight of 55 gallons of liquid, which weighs roughly just under 500 pounds.

The sweet juice residuals meant I needed to clean the barrel out with a solution, though. You can use a solution of one ounce of bleach to five gallons of water or, as I did, opt for a vinegar and baking soda alternative. However you get the job done, you’ll want to make sure the barrel is fresh and clean before you start collecting water in it.

Here are a few things I’ve learned throughout the process:

  • You don’t need a water pump to get the water out if you use gravity to your advantage and place the barrel on a raised base.
  • You want your base to be level and balanced.
  • 55 gallons of water is very heavy.
  • You’ll need to use fine mesh as a barrier at every entry point you create; otherwise, debris can clog everything up, and bugs are attracted to the water.
  • It’s important to avoid placing your barrel in direct sunlight because algae will grow inside it. You can also paint your barrel to keep the light out.

The build itself is rather simple: Rain barrels have inlets into which you direct a water source—you can direct the water from your gutter system by modifying your downspout to pour directly into the inlet, for example. Add another hole toward the top of the barrel for overflow and plan to direct that water away from your foundation—or into another barrel.

Next, you’ll need to cut a hole toward the bottom of the barrel and install a spigot. From the spigot, you can use a garden hose to direct the water to wherever you want it to go. How high you place the barrel will determine how much pressure you are going to get.

   

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Facebook, Alphabet Keep Rising; Apple, Netflix Fade | Sidnaz Blog

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Big tech stocks are going their own ways in 2021.

It is a far cry from last year, when the so-called FAANG stocks took a commanding role in a market driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

This year, as the economy strengthens and vaccinations diminish the pandemic in the U.S., that synchronized march has broken down. Investors have broadened their sights beyond the familiar names whose technology businesses thrived as many Americans switched to working, shopping and socializing at home. With a re-energized economy creating opportunity across industries, money managers have options, as well as renewed scrutiny for stocks whose lofty valuations and widespread popularity could limit further upside.

While Alphabet Class A and Facebook shares are up 37% and 21%, respectively, other members of the group have weighed on the market. Amazon shares are up 7.1% in 2021, lagging behind the 11% rise in the benchmark S&P 500. Apple and Netflix have fared even worse, down 1.7% and 7.4% for the year.

Among the hundreds of S&P 500 stocks outpacing Apple—the U.S. benchmark’s largest company by market value—are many that were hit hard by the pandemic. Cruise company

Carnival Corp.


CCL -0.84%

is up 30% for the year, and

American Airlines Group Inc.

has risen 41%. Other big gainers include almost every member of the energy sector.

Technology stocks that lagged in 2020 are also on the move this year.

Cisco Systems Inc.


CSCO -2.00%

is up 16% so far, and

Intel Corp.


INTC -2.64%

has posted a 12% gain.

“A rising tide is lifting all boats right now,” said

Jim Golan,

co-manager of the William Blair Large Cap Growth Fund. “Just investing in the top four or five big-cap companies probably won’t do it this year.”

Investors this week will scrutinize earnings from delivery giant

FedEx Corp.

, sneaker titan

Nike Inc.

and Olive Garden operator

Darden Restaurants Inc.


DRI -1.37%

for insights into consumer behavior.

With a healthier economy improving prospects for many stocks, investors have less reason to snap up ones that look expensive. That is particularly the case as a spurt of inflation focuses investors on the question of when the Federal Reserve will begin lifting interest rates from current, rock-bottom levels.

An Amazon warehouse. The e-commerce giant helped power the S&P 500 to a 16% gain for 2020.



Photo:

mike segar/Reuters

Fed officials last Wednesday indicated they anticipate raising rates by late 2023, sooner than previously expected. When rates rise, commonly used models show the far-off cash flows factored into many technology stock’s price tags are less valuable.

In recent months, investors haven’t been willing to pay as much for the profits of some of the megacap tech names with the richest valuations. Analyst estimates for Amazon’s per-share profit over the ensuing 12 months rose more than 40% from the end of December through last week, according to FactSet. But since Amazon’s share price rose only 7.1%, the stock’s forward price/earnings multiple contracted from nearly 73 times to about 55 times.

In the case of Netflix, expectations for forward earnings have risen while its share price has fallen. That has compressed the stock’s price/earnings ratio from almost 60 at the end of 2020 to about 43 last week.

Apple has seen its valuation fall since the start of the year, as projected earnings increased while its share price is nearly unchanged. It traded last week at about 25 times expected earnings—down from more than 32 times on Dec. 31.

After owning Apple shares for years,

David Bahnsen,

chief investment officer of wealth-management firm The Bahnsen Group, said he sold them late last year because he thought they were too rich.

For much of 2020, a badly constricted economy pushed investors toward stocks—like the FAANG names—whose businesses were less affected and whose future growth became even more alluring with the drop in interest rates. The Russell 1000 Growth Index advanced 37% for the year, while the Russell 1000 Value Index eked out a 0.1% gain—the largest annual performance gap between the two style benchmarks in FactSet data going back to 1979.

Big tech stocks were among the leaders of that rally. Apple shares climbed 81% in 2020—last August becoming the first U.S. public company to surpass $2 trillion in market value—while Amazon rose 76% and Netflix gained 67%. Facebook added 33% for the year, and Alphabet 31%.

“Philosophically if you’re buying those very large-cap stocks—let’s say a trillion dollars and above—you’re doing so not because you think you’ve found some undiscovered gem,” said

Kevin Landis,

who manages the Firsthand Technology Opportunities Fund. “You’re doing it more as an expression of a tech thesis, that people are going to be rotating to tech.”

That rotation began to unwind in November with news that a Covid-19 vaccine was emerging. Value stocks, which trade at low multiples of book value and tend to be more sensitive to the health of the economy, began a monthslong rally. In March, value stocks were beating growth stocks by the widest margin in two decades, although the gains have eroded recently.

Among big tech stocks, Alphabet and Facebook have served as a kind of reopening play, reporting a surge in advertising. Facebook’s profit in its latest quarter nearly doubled from a year earlier, while Alphabet’s earnings more than doubled.

“They’ve had this huge resurgence in online advertising and that’s really been driving the stocks,” said

Daniel Morgan,

senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Co. “All these businesses are reopening, coming back on, the economy’s accelerating. Where do they go to promote themselves? A lot of them go to Facebook.”

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Netflix, by contrast, disappointed investors when it reported that its subscriber growth had slowed as the economy reopened. The streaming giant got a boost from the pandemic as many consumers were forced or chose to stay home, and it ended 2020 with more than 200 million subscribers.

Those fundamentals matter more now for investors, who seem less inclined to view the market in the same broad terms as they did last year.

“These just are different companies that for a long time were highly correlated because they were popular, they were performing well,” Mr. Bahnsen said. “There really was never an investment logic to a streaming company that was first to market trading in tandem with a social media company.”

Write to Karen Langley at [email protected]

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Use Magic Erasers to Clean Sneakers, Grout, and Keyboards | Sidnaz Blog

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We know Mr. Clean “Magic Erasers” as the white pads with a shiny bald man telling you to remove scuff marks from walls.

But these little scrubbers—known generically as “melamine foam sponges”—can clean so much more than walls and baseboards.

The first and most important hack we learned when working with the sponges: buy them in bulk under their generic name online. You’ll pay less than half price per eraser. If you buy a big block of foam and cut off your own erasers, you’ll save even more.

Once you wet the melamine foam and squeeze off the excess water, you can clean all sorts of surfaces. We removed ink from white fabric, cleaned canvas sneakers, whitened bathroom grout, freshened the office coffee pot, and rid a keyboard of any lingering marks. Just be sure to dry any surface that should not stay wet, and do not use it on your computer screen. These erasers also have a tendency to whiten, which is great for things like white fabric, walls, and shoes, but always test a small area first to make sure nothing gets discolored.

And a quick note about using one of these on your skin: Some places suggest Magic Erasers remove ink from skin. Melamine can cause a reaction in children and people with sensitive skin, so please don’t go rubbing these all over your hands with wild abandon.

This article was originally published on June 3, 2019, and updated on June 16, 2021.

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Facebook and Its Advertisers Feel Pinch of Apple’s Privacy Drive | Sidnaz Blog

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Advertising relationships are often about the people who foster them. But when you are as big as

Facebook,


FB -0.36%

relationships are about money.

On Wednesday, Facebook’s head of global advertising sales

Carolyn Everson

said she was leaving the company after more than a decade. Just a few months ago, Facebook’s revenue chief

David Fischer

said in a Facebook post that he would be leaving the company later this year.

These exits have led some to worry about the impact on Facebook’s advertiser relationships. Last year, for example, Ms. Everson played a big role keeping major advertisers on Facebook’s platform, despite civil rights-related boycotts of the social network, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Such relationships may be irreplaceable at a smaller company, but are perhaps less important to a platform as large as Facebook. Its legacy Blue app alone is used by roughly 36% of the world’s population monthly, while its broader family of apps are used by nearly 44%. That number of eyes has no equal.

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Which company do you think is better positioned in the long term, Facebook or Apple? Join the conversation below.

The departures come at a particularly delicate time, though. Apple’s recent iOS operating system changes require developers to request users’ permission to track their online activity, a key way Facebook and other ad-based platforms were able to collect information about users in order to target them with ads. Facebook has been outspoken about its concern that tracking changes will disproportionately affect small businesses. That makes sense: As of the third quarter of last year, Facebook said it had over 10 million active advertisers on its platform, most of which were small businesses. Chief Executive

Mark Zuckerberg

has also said that as a business, he believes Facebook can manage through the changes and that it may emerge even stronger if it becomes harder for small businesses to navigate data targeting without Facebook’s help.

Facebook doesn’t regularly disclose the percentage of revenue that comes from small businesses, but investors got a hint of the proportion last year, when boycotts from large, well-known brands like

Verizon Communications,

VF Corp.’s

North Face and

Coca-Cola

had little effect on its top-line performance. Because Facebook has historically offered small businesses a virtually unmatched return on their investment, these companies have little choice but to advertise on its platforms.

Recent iOS changes could threaten some of Facebook’s loyalty among small businesses.



Photo:

Christoph Dernbach/Zuma Press

But the recent iOS changes could threaten some of that loyalty. Caitlin Tormey Mongiardini, chief commercial officer of cashmere clothing company NAADAM, said her company recently reallocated some of its marketing budget to focus on brand partnerships and other strategic marketing areas outside Facebook after hearing that the iOS update had been negatively affecting its peers. In some cases, she said fellow direct-to-consumer brands have seen their return on investment on Facebook cut in half.

Will Matalene, paid platform expert and digital marketing consultant, points out that in addition to diminished ad targeting abilities, Facebook is also now getting less data from Apple, making it more difficult for the platform to demonstrate returns to clients.

Ultimately, brands that have historically allocated large, set portions of their budgets to Facebook are becoming more nimble in terms of advertising channels, he said. While he doesn’t expect any brand can afford to pull all their money out from Facebook’s reach, he does see brands diversifying away from the company until it can come up with new ways to bolster its value proposition amid heightened focus on user privacy.

Facebook has said it expects iOS changes to begin to have an impact on its business in the current quarter. It is forecasting second-quarter year over year revenue growth to remain stable or modestly accelerate from the monster 48% growth it put up in the first quarter, but for growth rates to “significantly decelerate” sequentially in the third and fourth quarters.

Despite some advertisers reporting lower returns on their investments, pricing on Facebook’s ads has been rising. The company said on its first-quarter conference call that its average price per ad in the first quarter increased 30% year-on-year, even as impression growth has eased lately as last year’s homebound consumers are stepping back out. It expects ad revenue growth to be primarily driven by price for the remainder of the year.

To continue justifying rising prices in the face of a potentially lowered value proposition, Facebook will likely need a new game plan. The departure of two key ad executives only underscores that big changes could be afoot.

To Facebook’s advertisers and investors, the only faces that really matter are Benjamin Franklin’s rolling in.

Write to Laura Forman at [email protected]

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Why You Should Go Back to a Bagged Vacuum Cleaner | Sidnaz Blog

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Old-school bagged vacuum cleaners are pretty rare these days. This makes some amount of sense: If you can order a brand-new, lightweight canister vacuum off Amazon for less than $200, why bother with a heavier, noisier relic of a machine that requires replacement bags?

To put it bluntly, because bagged vacuums are fucking great. Last summer, I bought a refurbished Kirby Sentria II off Craigslist for $80 and it instantly changed my life. Yes, it’s heavy and not particularly nimble, but what it lacks in agility it more than makes up for with pure function. (This thing vacuums up cat hair like an $800 Dyson stick vacuum—it absolutely rules.)

But, as I’ve learned, bagged vacuum cleaners offer more than no-frills functionality. They have at least three distinct (and huge) advantages over all but the fanciest bagless models. If you don’t have hundreds of dollars to blow on a Dyson, pretty much any bagged vacuum cleaner in your price range is the next best thing, and I would love to tell you why.

Bagged vacuums are a lifesaver for allergy sufferers

Having used bagless vacuum cleaners for most of my adult life, I assumed that sneezing fits were part of the deal. Running the vacuum always kicked up some amount of dust, and emptying the canister sent clouds of it billowing into the air. If you’re at all allergic to anything that ends up in a vacuum—dust, dust mites, pet hair—the whole process can be more irritating than it’s worth.

None of this happens with bagged vacuums. As long as the tube that connects the head and the bag is properly sealed, all that dust and hair and other fine particulate matter goes straight into a bag that’s specifically designed to trap fine particulate matter. Changing the bag may release a small puff of loose dust, but it’s nothing compared to the vortex you get from emptying a canister. If you or anyone you live with suffers from indoor allergies, you seriously owe it to yourself to check out bagged vacuums. You can even buy HEPA-rated bags if that’s what you need.

Bagged vacuums are greener than you think

I know what you’re thinking: Vacuum cleaner bags are incredibly bad for the environment. Every time you change the bag, you’re sending loads of dust and hair to the landfill in a bag that won’t break down.

Two things here. First, while it’s true that many vacuum bags—especially those designed to meet HEPA standards—are made of synthetic cloth that doesn’t biodegrade, plenty of others actually do. You can buy bags made of literal paper and other compostable materials that fit most models of bagged vacuums. Second, which do you think is more polluting: Increasingly obscure vacuum bags, some of which are biodegradable—or a global industry churning out more plastic canister vacuums every year, which inevitably end up in landfills when they break?

You can actually fix bagged vacuums

This brings me to the final advantage, and it’s a big one: Unlike the vast majority of cheap canister vacuums, bagged vacuums are designed to be repaired. Parts that wear out regularly (especially belts) are so cheap and easy to replace that you can do it yourself after watching a few YouTube videos. For the harder stuff, there’s always vacuum repair shops, which are less obscure than they sound. Pretty much every metropolitan area in the U.S. has at least one because commercial cleaning firms need to keep their vacuums in working order. If you live within driving distance of a town or city with lots of hotels or office buildings, there’s a good chance you’ll find a vacuum repair shop, too.

Being able to maintain and repair your vacuum as needed sounds like such a small thing, but it’s surprisingly rare. Using the same vacuum for several years keeps your carpet clean, keeps money in your pocket, and keeps your vacuum out of the landfill—which are pretty great goals.

 

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How to Keep Your Cutting Boards From Warping | Sidnaz Blog

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Warped cutting boards aren’t just annoying—they’re extremely hazardous. Your cutting board should be rock-steady while you’re mincing and slicing; anything less is a recipe for disaster.

If all your cutting boards keep turning into see-saws, there’s a good chance you’re washing or storing them incorrectly. The good news is that it’s a very easy fix: Most warping is caused by heat and/or bending forces, both of which can be avoided with a few simple tweaks to your washing and storage routine. These tips apply to both wooden and plastic boards, and if you adopt them, you’ll never deal with another unsteady cutting board again.

Avoid washing cutting boards in hot water—including the dishwasher

The single best way to prevent warping is to keep your boards away from hot water. Heat makes both plastic and wood significantly more pliable; getting a cutting board nice and hot in the sink and then standing it on end to air-dry creates the ideal conditions for warping. Unfortunately, this means you should avoid putting boards in the dishwasher—those extreme temperature changes are bad news, even for allegedly dishwasher-safe boards.

Washing in cool or lukewarm water is a much better choice. If the idea of using anything but scalding water to wash cutting boards freaks you out, it shouldn’t. Nobody’s tap water gets hot enough to truly sanitize dishes—soap does all the germ-killing work. As long as you’re using enough soap, scrubbing your boards thoroughly, and rinsing them completely, cool water cleans just as well as hot.

Store your cutting boards flat or on the long side

Heat enables warping, but cutting boards don’t bend without a little bit of force. It doesn’t take much: Standing a board up on its end can do it, particularly if it’s thin and still warm from being washed. But a board can’t bend under its own weight when it’s lying flat. If you have the room for it, that’s how you should store yours.

With that said, most people don’t have enough storage space for a stack of cutting boards—myself included. Instead, storing your boards on the longer side is definitely the way to go. I used to store my boards on the short side leaned up against a cabinet wall, which applied just enough force that they always came out of the cabinet warped. Flipping them onto their long sides made a huge difference right away—and once I finally stopped using hot water, warped cutting boards officially became a thing of the past.

  

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How to Keep Your Knives Sharp | Sidnaz Blog

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They say it’s more dangerous to use a dull knife than a sharp knife. That’s because if you struggle with a dull blade, you’re more likely to slip—and no one wants that.

To prevent your knives from quickly losing their edge, never put them in the dishwasher. Wash them by hand and dry immediately. Store them in a knifeblock or in a dedicated drawer, and cover the blades with guards.

Once you notice your blades aren’t slicing like they used to, you have a few options for honing. (Please note that honing and sharpening are different—honing is simply straightening out the sharp edge of the blade, and should be done regularly. Sharpening involves grinding the metal, and for that you’ll need to send your knives out to a metal shop every few years.)

If you have a two-sided whetstone, first soak the stone in water and then place coarse-side up on a damp paper towel for stability. Hold the knife at a 15-degree angle with the heel of the knife at the back of the stone, and slide in a sweeping motion until the tip of the knife reaches the other end of the stone. Repeat 4-5 times, then switch sides of the knife, turn the stone over, and repeat the process.

You can also use a honing steel by holding it perpendicular to the counter with the heel of the blade at the top of the steel. Slide the blade down until the tip of the knife reaches the bottom of the steel. Repeat 4-5 times, then switch sides.

If you don’t have these tools, you can use the rough ceramic edge of the bottom of a coffee mug. Slide the knife blade from heel to tip along the edge a few times, then switch sides.

 

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The Most Common Home Repairs You Can Easily Handle Yourself | Sidnaz Blog

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Your home is one of the most expensive things you’ll ever pay for, so whether you’re renting or buying, you should take good care of it. While you may be tempted to call a professional when something breaks, you can take care of many minor repairs yourself.

These projects are all easy and low-risk, but you should always be sure to research any project you don’t understand—particularly if you’re dealing with electricity or plumbing, which can be extremely hazardous. Also, if you don’t already have a tool kit of your own, this wouldn’t be a bad time to start building your essential toolbox. Some of the repairs listed here will require special tools you may not have laying around, but we’ll list those where applicable.

Fix or replace a broken toilet lever

Toilet levers (or handles) break all the time, and thankfully, they’re very easy to fix. If pressing the lever doesn’t flush the toilet, you can usually just pop the tank open and re-attach the chain. However, in some cases, the handle itself can become corroded or any one of the pieces that connect the handle to the flapper (including the handle, nut, metal rod, or chain) can break. If that happens to you, here’s what you’ll need to fix it:

The actual installation is pretty simple, as this video from Everyday Home Repairs demonstrates:

Unclog a toilet drain

Before you call a plumber to unclog a toilet, there are two things you should try. You will need:

First things first, make sure you’re using toilet-specific tools. Toilet plungers have flaps at the business end that form a tight seal with the drain. Sink plungers are totally round and may not do much to a stubborn clog. Augers are very similar to drain snakes, but they’re designed specifically to work with toilets.

Neither of these tools is hard to use, but this short video from the Home Depot YouTube channel shows the techniques in action:

They recommend pouring 3 tablespoons of liquid dish soap into the toilet before plunging (or auger-ing) to lubricate the drain and help dislodge clogs.

Fix a leaky P-trap under the kitchen or bathroom sink

Most minor pipe leaks happen around the P-trap, and are usually caused by a worn out washer or a loose or broken compression nut. To fix it, you’ll need:

Before you do anything else, turn the water off to the sink. Some sinks have a shut off valve right near the sink itself, but others may be as far away as the basement. Once the water’s off, you’re good to get started.

This one is very easy, as you can see in this how-to video from Jeff Ostroff on YouTube:

All you have to do is twist off the compression nuts holding the P-trap in place so you can replace them and the worn-out washers. As Jeff mentions in the video, this type of fastener is designed to be hand-tightened because PVC pipe can crack under too much pressure; if whoever installed your P-trap over-tightened the nuts anyways, a 3-way plumber’s wrench can help you loosen it up.

Clear a jammed garbage disposal

The garbage disposal is a big scary machine made of hidden blades and bad noises. Primal fears of ominous pits aside, it’s actually fairly easy to clear up a clog. You’ll need:

Hitting the reset button sometimes does the trick, but if it doesn’t, this video from Williams Plumbing & Heating shows two other easy methods for unclogging a disposal:

Rotating the disposal blades with an Allen wrench will usually be enough to dislodge debris and get the disposal running again. For bigger, tougher jobs, a garbage disposal wrench may be necessary: It’s designed to fit in the disposal’s main chamber and remove whatever’s jamming things up.

Replace a light switch

Most electrical work in your home should probably be done by a professional, but light switches are among the easiest to replace. If you have a switch that’s not working properly, you can do it with these common tools:

Turn off the proper circuit breaker before beginning, then get to work. This tutorial from the Lowe’s YouTube channel lays it all out:

Once you’ve unscrewed the faceplate, you just need to disconnect the wires, connect your new switch, and replace the plate.

Patch drywall holes

Holes in walls are nearly unavoidable, even if you’re only renting. However, unless you’ve done plowed a car through it, you can fix most holes pretty cheaply. Depending on the size of the hole, you’ll need some or all of these tools:

Start by assessing the scale of the damage. Screw or nail holes from hanging pictures or TVs are the easiest: Clean the area of any debris, wipe down the wall, then use a putty knife to press some spackle into the wall and let it dry. Once it’s done, smooth it out with some sandpaper. Depending on how seamless you need it to be and what color you your walls are, you may need to apply a coat of paint.

Larger holes are trickier. This video from LRN2DIY shows a couple different methods for patching them:

To properly patch a large hole, you’ll need to cut out some of the surrounding drywall and replace it. This isn’t exactly difficult but it does require more advanced techniques than some of the other fixes we’ve covered so far—especially for really big holes. If you’re not confident you’re up to the task, call a pro.

Loosen a stuck window

If you go too long without opening a window, it can get so mucked up with dirt and crap that it’s difficult to open. This isn’t a terribly complex problem to solve, but it can require some elbow grease. You’ll need these tools and supplies:

Physically unsticking the window from the frame is a pretty good place to start. This video from ForRent.com shows a few different techniques:

If prying and (gentle) hammering aren’t doing the trick, you might need to get chemicals involved. Paint thinner can help loosen stubborn painted-shut windows, and WD-40 or a silicone lubricant can help the window slide in its tracks again. Just keep in mind that WD-40 will gum up vinyl windows; you can use a little to dissolve rust, but don’t spray it all over the tracks.

There’s no shortage of things in your house that can break, but you’ll find that most of them can be fixed with some hardware store basics and a little Googling. If something breaks in a non-life-threatening way, check online before you call a professional. It could save you a bundle.

This article was originally published on October 15, 2013. It was updated on May 14, 2021 with new links, updated information, and to meet Lifehacker style guidelines.

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