Information & Tips

Got a New Ceiling Fan? Here’s How to Install it

You don’t necessarily need a professional to install your new ceiling fan for you — these tips will help you accomplish the task on your own.

Ceiling fans are a wonderful way to keep cool in the summer months, and they can keep your electricity bill lower, too. If you’re looking to complete the installation project on your own, here’s our tips to help you along.

Safety First

You’ll want to protect yourself against any injuries or accidental damage to your home, so before starting the project, take the following precautions:

  • Read through the manufacturer’s instructions for installation because it may have product-specific installation or safety information you need to know, plus you’ll have a good sense of the steps needed.
  • Make sure that the outlet box can support the weight of the fan, and that all the electrical connections comply with local standards.
  • Before doing any electrical work, ensure that the power is shut off at your circuit breaker box.

Take Out the Old Fixture

  • With the electricity shut off, remove any glass shades from your old fixture first.
  • Unscrew any fasteners holding the fixture to the ceiling, and carefully lower it.
  • Disconnect the electrical wires, by removing the plastic connectors from the ends.
  • Remove the old electrical box by unscrewing the fasteners, then pull it out through the opening.

Mount the New Electrical Box

  • Start by inserting a fan brace though the open hole, in a centered position, and rotate the support brace until perfectly locked into place. If the brace doesn’t fit, you may need to carefully saw a larger hole in your ceiling. Have a vacuum nearby to pick up any fallen debris.
  • Attach the provided U-bolt over the brace, using screws, then thread the electrical wire into the box. Move the box upwards, so that the bolts above attach to it, and secure it in place by tightening the nuts.

Attach the Bracket

  • The bracket is what connects your new fan to the box above. You’ll want to pay special attention to manufacturer instructions here, making sure to pull the electrical wires through the center before setting it in place. Some models may simply have a ceiling medallion to be glued, while some may need to be screwed in more elaborately.

Assemble the Rest

  • Grab your new canopy, motor, and downrod. While on a flat surface, feed the motor’s wires through the canopy, so that it rests loosely on top of the motor, then string it through the downrod pipe.
  • Attach the downrod to the motor, using the manufacturer’s instructions.

Connect the Wires

  • Find a way to rest the ceiling fan near the electrical box while you work — a friend could help you hold it, or you might be able to use a hook on the mounting bracket.
  • Connect each wire on your fan to the electrical box above, matching color to color (black wires should only connect to black wires, etc.) You may need to trim some of the insulation to link them and then finish with a wire nut, and make sure you connect the grounding wire appropriately.
  • Once everything’s connected, secure the fan into place, and attach it to the mounting bracket.

Attach the Bulb and Fan Blades

  • The last step is to assemble your fan blades, according to the manufacturer’s guide, and then fasten them to the motor. Some fans are designated as easy assembly, so keep an eye out for that if you want a simpler installation.
  • Twist in the lightbulb, then flip the power switch back on from the breaker and test your handiwork. The lights should be on, and the fan should be spinning smoothly.

Photo credit: antoniodiaz/Shutterstock

Four Reasons Why Your Faucet is Leaking, and How to Fix It

You don’t want to leave a broken faucet for long — the drips will be a constant reminder. Here’s our tips for how to fix a leaky faucet.

Leaking faucets can be a nightmare. Not only does the constant dripping get annoying, but you’ll end up with higher water bills, too. We’ve outlined four common problems for a leaky faucet below, to help you figure out the cause. Then, read on for the steps to fix it on your own.

Common Leak Issues

  • Broken Parts: There are a few different parts within your faucet that can wear down over time and cause leakage, like the O-ring, cartridge, stem, or seal. Broken parts will need to be replaced.
  • Loose Parts: Sometimes, these parts are just loose and not broken, and they’ll need a quick tightening to stop the leak.
  • Sediment Buildup: Particularly if you live somewhere with hard water, sediment can build up over time and corrode the parts. Corroded parts can be cleaned off, but if left for too long, they’ll need to be replaced, too.
  • Water Pressure: If you only notice the sink leaking at certain times, it could be a water pressure problem — too strong a flow can damage pipes over time. These issues can be difficult to fix on your own without experience, so a plumber might be your best friend here.

Turn Off the Water

When you’re ready to start, begin by shutting off the water valve, otherwise you could cause a flood. There should be a shutoff valve somewhere below your sink, but if you don’t see one, shut off the main water supply to your home. Test that it’s shut off by turning on the faucet — no water should flow through.

Disassemble the Handle

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your sink to remove the handles. You’ll likely need to use a screwdriver to remove a screw cap, then again to loosen the handle. Then, you should be able to pull it off freely.

Inspect the Parts Underneath

Take a look around inside at all the parts mentioned above — the cartridge or stem itself may have been the issue, but other parts you should inspect are the O-rings, washers, and seals. If any of the parts are damaged, they’ll need to be replaced, but they could just need to be cleaned if there’s sediment or tightened if they’re loose. If you suspect water pressure might be the cause, check for cracks in the pipes.

Replace and Reassemble

If you notice a damaged part, remove it from the faucet, but make sure that you keep it: bringing it to the hardware store with you will help ensure you can find the proper part to replace it with. Ask an employee to help you find it if you aren’t sure. Faucets come in a few different varieties, like cartridge faucets, disc faucets, or ball faucets, so if you don’t know how to reinstall the new part, read any manufacturer’s instructions you have and look up your sink online to learn the process. Once done, turn the shutoff valve back on, and test that the leak stopped, and water flows smoothly.

Still Having Trouble?

We hope that this guide helps you out, but if you’ve inspected all the parts and can’t figure out the cause, or if water pressure is your issue, there’s no shame in calling a plumber for some help. Sure, it can be a bit pricey, but in the long run leaking faucets can leave a dent in your wallet if not properly dealt with, too.

Photo credit: ArtSvetlana/Shutterstock

How to Build a DIY Cat Tree in Six Easy Steps

You can get as creative as you want when making a DIY cat tree — your kitty will be grateful.

Cats love to climb and hide, so why not gift your loveable feline a new cat tree? Sure, you could just buy one from the store, but making it yourself keeps costs low, and you can design it based on your own space. As long as you have the proper tools, this is a pretty straightforward construction project, just follow this guide and you’ll be set.

Tools Needed

  • Lumber, like plywood boards
  • PVC pipe, dimensional lumber, or heavy cardboard tubes
  • Carpet
  • Sisal rope
  • Wood glue or screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Scissors

1. Get Inspired

Your first step is to scour pet stores, or the internet, for ideas. You can go as simple or as elaborate as your heart desires — your imagination (and maybe gravity) are the only limits. Your structure could go all the way to the ceiling, or have multiple towers for more than one cat, and think about where you want to put your cat tree, too. If your pet loves to lounge in the sun, for example, build it to be the proper size and height to catch the rays from your window.

2. Sketch a Design

Next, you’ll need to plan out a design. Make sure that the base of your cat tree is larger and heavier than any platforms, so that it can’t tip over. The wood you use for the base should be thick, too — you can glue multiple pieces of wood together. If you’re inexperienced and worried about making it structurally sound, feel free to find an exact blueprint online so you know how big to make your pieces.

3. Prep Your Lumber

Before you start building, it’s a good idea to get all the pieces ready so that you’re prepared. Carefully use a hand saw or table saw to cut the wood into the sizes you’ll need for the base. Platforms should also be made with plywood panels, which will be attached together to form a bed shape. For the posts, you could use dimensional lumber, PVC pipes, or even heavy-duty cardboard tubes.

4. Build the Base

Start by working with your base. Cut out a piece of your chosen carpet, which will cover the base, a few inches longer on each side than the wood. Cut out notches at the corners, so that it can fold smoothly, and staple the carpet along the bottom, out of sight.

5. Attach the Vertical Supports

Start by wrapping your supports in either sisal rope or carpet and add staples along the bottom or inside to secure it. Then, attach the post to the base using either wood glue or screws — you’ll likely need to cut out an exact hole from the top of the carpet. You could also carpet the base last, but your cutting will need to be more intricate to wrap around the post.

6. Secure the Platforms

Now is the time to secure any platforms you’ve built onto the vertical supports, using either glue or wood screws depending on your design. Cover each platform with carpet after putting it together, so that any screws in the wood will be hidden and won’t harm your pet, and then secure it by stapling it underneath.

Finishing Touches

Following these steps will result in a wonderful cat tree, but there are some optional additions you could add to make it even better. Consider making a double posted cat tree and hanging a hammock in between, so your cat has a soft bed to sleep in, or you can build some steps so your cat can get to the top more easily.

Photo credit: LeDarArt/Shutterstock

Got a Zipper that Won’t Stay Closed? Here’s How to Fix It

A broken zipper can happen to anyone, but with a few basic tools and a few simple steps, you can fix it up good as new.

It’s a horrible feeling to zip up your favorite jacket or backpack, only to realize that the closure comes undone immediately. Luckily, fixing it on your own is completely doable, and it should only take you less than an hour from start to finish. Use our handy guide below to learn how to fix a zipper, and we’ll also go over some related problems that are easy to solve.

Tools You’ll Need:

As this is a relatively simple project, you’ll probably only need a pair of needle nose pliers to get the job done. Depending on the level of damage, you might also need to buy a new zipper slider and zipper stoppers, or a small amount of laundry detergent and a cotton swab to clean it.

Remove the Old Zipper Slider

Start by taking off the stopper at the bottom, which keeps the zipper from sliding off the garment, using your needle nose pliers. Then, carefully pull off the old slider, and inspect the level of damage it has.

Tighten It if Necessary

If your zipper slider looks crimped and distorted, you might just need to quickly adjust it to fix the zipper. Use your pliers to carefully bend it back to its original shape, without applying too much pressure. You might be able to complete this step without taking off the slider completely, too, depending on how badly it’s misshaped.

Put in the New Slider

If tightening it up isn’t working, it’s time to install your new zipper slider. Dispose of your old one and pop on the new, making sure it’s in the same direction and on the same side. Then, you’ll need to attach the stopper back on using your pliers. If the old stopper was made of plastic, you might have some troubles reusing it, so it’s likely easier to purchase and affix a new one.

Other Problems You Might Encounter:

A broken zipper pull: If it’s just the pull on your zipper that snapped off, there are some crafty fixes you can use until you get a new slider. You can just attach an old key ring, or even a soda can tab, to help you slide it on and off. This is only a temporary fix, of course, but it can make life easier in the moment.

A zipper stuck on dirt or gunk: Sometimes, your zipper might just be stuck on some dirt caught inside the teeth or slider. To get it out, you can try to use something sharp and pointy, like a pencil or sewing pin, to budge it out of the zipper. You can also try laundry detergent; pour a very small amount into a dish and dilute it with water. Then, dip a cotton swab into the mix, and coat the zipper teeth with it. Keep doing this until the zipper can move without issue.

A zipper detached at the seams: The zipper fabric itself can rip off from your garment, too. If that ever happens to you, you’ll need to sew it back on, either by hand or using a sewing machine for a more secure finish. If you don’t have any sewing experience, it might be best to bring it to a professional tailor.

Photo credit: CGN089/Shutterstock

Can’t catch any ZZZ’s? Here are 5 Tips for How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule

A disrupted sleep schedule can happen to anyone, but there are plenty of restful activities to try — here are five tips that can help you fix your sleep schedule and stick to a routine.

A consistent bedtime routine is important for your health and happiness, but there are lots of things that can throw off your sleep schedule. All nighters spent finishing your homework, waking up in the middle of the night to your baby crying, or working nights shifts are all factors that can disrupt your circadian rhythm. If your internal clock has fallen off track and you’re struggling to fall asleep at night, there are fixes: Here are five tips to help you reset your schedule and drift off to sleep — no counting sheep necessary.

Say No to Afternoon Caffeine

As we all know, caffeine is a stimulant found in many drinks like tea, coffee, and even soda, that give you a jolt of energy to help you through your day. Many people don’t realize how long it stays in your system — up to twelve hours, depending on the individual. Reducing your caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon, can help your body wind down in the evening time so you can fall asleep more easily.

Create a Relaxing Environment

Your surroundings can play a big role in insomnia. Noisy and stimulating environments keep the brain active and awake, and because your body temperature falls as you drift to sleep, bedrooms that are too hot can discourage sleep, too. Luckily, you have some control over your environment; turn down the heat or remove a blanket layer, and don’t watch Netflix as you’re falling asleep. To set a snoozy mood after a long day, try sipping on chamomile tea, having a relaxing bubble bath, or going through a guided meditation to ease the nerves before bed.

Manage Your Stress Levels

Lots of people struggle to sleep because of emotional factors, like stress or anxiety that trickles from the day into the evening; your body will produce cortisol when stressed, which is a hormone that can keep you awake. Try activities like yoga or meditation to help shift your focus away from anxiety, and onto relaxing your body to fix your sleep schedule. If you’re someone who lays awake thinking of everything that went wrong during the day, remember, too, that we’re all just doing our best, and for whatever doesn’t get accomplished today, there’s always tomorrow.

Avoid Light Exposure Before Bed as Much as Possible

If your current bedtime routine involves catching up on social media before hitting the pillow, you might want to rethink that, as exposure to light at night can throw off your circadian rhythm. Blue light from your electronic screens has been painted as the main culprit, but a recent study found that this isn’t necessarily true and yellow light also impacts sleep. Using night shift on your devices isn’t a replacement for putting your phone down and doing a screen-free activity.

Talk to Your Doctor

If all else fails, or you can’t fix your emotional troubles alone, you should reach out to your physician, who can likely come up with a diagnosis and a game plan. They might suggest taking melatonin supplements, as for some people it can help establish sleeping patterns. Light therapy could be another option, where bright light exposure, usually in the morning, can help set a proper circadian rhythm and help you fall asleep earlier. Just don’t try any medical fixes before going through it with your doctor!

A disrupted sleep schedule can happen to anyone, but we hope that with these tips in hand, you’ll be able to fix it and create a bedtime routine that you can stick to, so that falling asleep on time every night will be easy, not a chore.

Photo credit: AA.Shkob/Shutterstock