Family Handyman

Family Handyman June 2018

When it comes to home improvement, you need information you can trust. Inside each issue of The Family Handyman, you’ll find see-and-solve expert repair techniques, a variety of projects for every room and step-by-step, do-it-yourself photos.

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great goofs ®

SUMMER SHOWER The drain line on my air conditioner was clogged. I called an air conditioner contractor, and he decided to clear it by blasting compressed air down the line from upstairs. My job was to wait outside at the end of the drain line to see if anything came out. I stationed myself to watch, as instructed, but I didn’t stand back quite far enough. In an instant, I was showered with putrid water and debris! Shocked, I stood there unable to move—just long enough for him to send another blast of air, showering me again. Next time, I’ll be in charge of the air and someone else can wait outside! MELODEE MORELL CUTTING THE DECK I was demolishing a 1950s built-in buffet in my basement as part of a remodel and decided to…

home smarts

RECYCLING YOUR COMPUTER? DESTROY YOUR HARD DRIVE Before you scrap your old computer, it’s smart to physically damage the hard drive. It probably holds recoverable personal information, even if it has been “erased.” You can obliterate the drive with an angle grinder as shown above, but all you really need to do is scratch, dent and batter the disk. A screwdriver and hammer will do the job. Removing the drive from the computer is a bit trickier and varies by model. For help with that, search online by typing in your computer model together with “remove hard drive.” ELIZABETH FLAHERTY INSPECT PLUMBING VENTS Next time you’re up on the roof, take a look at the rubber gaskets around plumbing vent pipes. Those gaskets sometimes crack, tear and let in rainwater. If you have all-metal…

reader info

Need more Family Handyman? Get our best tips and hints in your inbox. Sign up at GOT A DIY QUESTION? Finding answers is easy at Just use the search box at the top of the page to get expert step-by-step help with your projects. GOT A HANDY HINT OR TIP FOR US? To share your information with us, submit a copy of your original contribution, including photos and/or sketches, by email to: Or mail to: The Family Handyman, 2915 Commers Drive, Suite 700, Eagan, MN 55121 Please include your name, mailing address and email address if you have one, and indicate to which department you are submitting. We reserve the right to publish your submission in any appropriate department, or elsewhere. Contributions will not be acknowledged or returned. RIGHTS By submitting material to us, you grant Home…

tales from the inside

Just last spring, a flooded-basement claim involved a breaker that had tripped during the winter. When the wet season came, the pump failed to turn on. After my inspection, I sat down with the homeowners and explained that they had an endorsement for “limited water backup and sump discharge or overflow coverage.” This is a good endorsement to have if you have a finished basement. But in this case, the coverage was limited to the standard $5,000, while their loss topped $15,000. It was a tough conversation because the homeowners thought they were fully covered. I always advise people in homes with finished basements to increase their endorsement coverage limit to at least $10,000.…

avoid insurance surprises

With something as complicated as homeowners insurance, there’s nothing better than having an insider tell you what’s what. We recently met an expert who’s spent half his life working with insurance claims—as a contractor for homeowners, and later as a claims adjuster. What he told us has changed the way we look at our policies. And even more important, we now understand the limitations of our coverage. 1. Your garage may not be fully covered Policies are set up to insure your main structure and whatever is physically attached to it. This would include an attached garage but NOT a detached garage. Structures like stand-alone garages and sheds are typically covered at only 10 percent of your main dwelling coverage. So, if you carry $200,000 of coverage on your house, your detached garage…

money-saving strategies

GET A LIST OF DISCOUNTS Insurance companies offer discounts to homeowners for improvements that make their homes a better risk. These include safety features such as indoor sprinklers, smoke detectors and dead bolts. Discount programs change frequently. If you haven’t spoken to your agent within the past year or you’ve made a major home improvement, you may be missing out on significant discounts. INFORM YOUR AGENT ABOUT UPGRADES Insurance companies like to insure homes with newer plumbing and electrical systems as well as burglar alarms and sprinkler systems because these features reduce the risk of fire and water damage. If you upgrade any of these systems in an older home, tell your insurance agent. One homeowner we spoke with called her agent to report recent plumbing upgrades, and after a short conversation,…