If you drive a smaller passenger vehicle but tend to haul long, large, or unwieldy cargo, don’t put your paint job at risk. There is a simple and inexpensive hack that can protect your car and your cargo when transporting items in the trunk. Pool noodle “trunk bumpers” can eliminate contact between your cargo and your paint job, protecting them both from damage.

Purchase a standard pool noodle in the color of your choice. Then, cut the noodle in half vertically to create two open-faced semicircle bumpers. Cut the halves horizontally to the length you need to protect your trunk and bumper. Attach the pool noodles to your trunk and bumper before you plan on carrying cargo that won’t allow your trunk to fully close.

The pool noodle bumpers will rest comfortably on the cargo you’re carrying, protecting it and your vehicle from scratches in the paint. Carefully strap the trunk shut and you’re on your way!


Do-it-yourself (DIY) electrical projects can save considerable money and help you understand the inner workings of your home’s electrical system. They can also, however, be dangerous and costly if you don’t know what you’re doing. Avoiding common mistakes is a great first step toward successfully completing a DIY electrical project. Once you learn what not to do, you can focus on what to do.

Failing to Use a Non-Contact Voltage Tester

One of the absolute most important steps to take before starting any DIY electrical project is to invest in a non-contact voltage tester. This little tool could prevent serious personal injury accidents during a DIY electrical endeavor. It is the fastest, simplest, and safest way to check for an electrical current in a component. Test wires, switches, circuits, and outlets for voltage before you cut or work to prevent electric shocks. Even if you think you have shut off the power source, use a voltage tester to double-check before beginning work.

Skipping the Electrical Box

Electrical boxes aren’t just a precaution. They keep wire connections free and clear from damage that could be deadly. Anywhere you make wire connections requires an electrical box, or junction box. Otherwise, the elements could damage a connection, change the way it carries electrical current, cause too much heat, and lead to a short circuit, a spark, or an electrical fire. Install boxes anywhere you need to connect two or more wires.

Cutting Wires Too Short

It’s always better to have wires that are too long than too short. You can always go back and shorten wires, but it’s more difficult to extend a wire you’ve chopped too short. Long wires may be more cumbersome in an electrical box, but wires that are too short can have poor connections and a higher risk of electrical problems. You should cut your wires so that they protrude three inches from the box. Your wire lengths should be just right to allow a tight connection, but also should give the wire a bit of slack.

Reversing Wire Types

One of the deadliest DIY electrical mistakes a person can make is getting a hot and a neutral wire confused. If this is even a possibility, call an electrician to take over the project. Reversing hot and neutral wires can lead to a lethal electric shock. Hot wires are black. White wires are neutral.Always connect the black wire to the hot terminal, and the white wire to the neutral terminal of outlets and fixtures. The neutral terminal will also have a marker, such as a silver screw. Ground wires will have green or copper wires. Connect these to green grounding screws. Confusing wires and screws is a common but serious mistake you must be careful to avoid.

Refusing to Call an Electrician

Although you can do many household electrical projects yourself with a few basic tools and a bit of know-how, you shouldn’t attempt projects that are outside your realm of knowledge. Working with electrical components always comes with the risk of electrical shocks, mistakes, and fires. Unless you’re confident you can complete a project without encountering these risks, call in a professional electrician for the job instead. There’s no shame in contacting the experts for more complex electrical projects—especially if it keeps you alive.


Painting your home can get messy. There’s no telling where the paint will fly. It’s always best to cover anything important, including flooring.

The easiest drop cloth to use to cover your flooring while painting is a vinyl tablecloth. Most party stores and big box stores such as Walmart and Target carry them in multiple colors. They are inexpensive, disposable, and cover a large area of flooring.

Unlike canvas drop cloths, the vinyl option does not slip around on the floor. Put the smooth side face up on carpeted floors and the smooth side face down on hard flooring for the best traction.

Because they’re disposable, you can just pick them up and throw them away when you’re finished. No need to store a big, bulky drop cloth until your next painting session. Save yourself time and money when purchasing painting supplies and opt for vinyl tablecloths instead.


If you’ve used a measuring square before, then you know it can sometimes be a challenge to keep the square in exactly the right spot while you do your measurements. You set your square to the right place, move a hand to start drawing your line and then the square shifts and your line is ruined. Instead of trying to tape down your square or fix it in another fashion that may damage your work surface, try this simple hack instead.

One of the easiest ways to prevent your square from slipping is to use vinyl picture frame bumpers. These tiny adhesive dots stick to the back of the square and give it a bit of grip to stay in place. You will likely only need a few for a small square—typically one at each leg end and one at the angle. For larger squares, you may want to apply a few sets of two dots every few inches to keep the square more secure.


We’ve all had that problem before: you need to plug something in, but your home doesn’t have a nearby electrical outlet. Instead, you have to string together extension cords, which can behazardous on their own, in addition to causing clutter.

Of course, adding in an electrical outlet can be a hassle. But, if you happen to have an existing outlet on the opposite side of the wall, then you may be able to use that connection to put in a new outlet—all without tearing the wall apart and having to patch over the resulting hole.

What to Check Beforehand

Before you get ready to add in a new electrical outlet, you need to make sure that you can use the existing outlet as a power source. Some considerations you want to look out for are:

  • If a circuit often trips its breaker or fuse, you don’t want to overload the circuit with a new outlet.
  • Check how many lights and outlets already connect to the circuit. You can do this by turning off the circuit on your electrical panel and seeing what turns off when you do so. While you’re there, check the amp rating. Most electric codes indicate that you can’t have more than eight lights or fixtures on one 15-amp circuit.
  • Electrical codes also often require kitchens and bathrooms to be on 20-amp ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) circuits. If you want to add an outlet to your kitchen or bathroom, ensure that it will connect to an appropriate circuit. You should also not use an existing kitchen or bathroom outlet to power a new outlet.
  • Check the circuit box size stamped on the inside at the back. If the size is smaller than 18 cubic inches, the method outlined here won’t work.
  • You may need an electrical permit from your local building department to add an outlet to your home.

Once you’ve confirmed everything is in order, you’re ready to get started.

Tools and Materials

To do this project, you’ll need:

  • Four-in-one screwdriver
  • Drywall saw
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Voltage tester
  • Wire stripper
  • Five feet of electrical cable
  • Remodeling box
  • Outlet
  • Wire connectors

Replacing the Outlet

  • Turn off the outlet that will be the power source.
  • Locate the studs on both sides of the outlet with an electronic stud finder. Your new box can go anywhere between the two studs.
  • Hold your new electrical box to the wall where you want it to go and trace around it with a pencil. Cut out the hole with a drywall saw.
  • Unscrew the existing outlet on the other side of the wall and punch out a knockout on the back of the box. Through the knockout, feed in enough electrical cable to reach the new outlet with about one foot of slack.
  • Rewire the existing outlet using wire connectors to connect like-colored wires.
  • Pull the cable through the new outlet hole and feed it into your new box. The neutral (white) wire connects to the silver terminal screw, the hot (black) wire to the gold screw, and the core wire to the green screw.
  • Mount the new box into the opening.

To ensure the safety of your new outlet, have an electrical inspector look it over before using it.


Circuit breakers prevent millions of electrical fires every year. They cut off the power (“break the circuit”) when they detect problems such as an electricity overload, keeping occupants of the home safe from potential electrical fires. Every modern home comes equipped with circuit breakers, some of which may trip frequently and require resets. Learning how circuit breakers work can help you calculate safe electrical loads, take care of minor issues on your own, and know when to call an electrician.

Circuit Breakers, Overloads, and Electrical Fires

When a power company delivers electricity from a power grid into your home, the electricity enters via a circuit breaker box or fuse box. The box divides the incoming electricity into multiple circuits to power different outlets and appliances. The circuit breaker and its switches are in charge of organizing and monitoring circuits as you use your electricity. Although the main power grid consistently delivers the same voltage to a home, different appliances have certain amounts of resistance, or load.

A breaker, or fuse, protects each circuit in your home. It is the breaker’s job to monitor electricity currents and loads, and to break the circuit if a problem occurs. Pushing more current than a circuit is designed to hold, for example, could cause a dangerous overload and an electrical fire if the circuit does not detect and respond to the issue right away. An overload may happen when you plug too many energyconsuming devices into a single circuit. This causes the circuit to heat up from the burden of too much electrical current.

Without a properly working breaker, the heat could melt the wire’s insulation and start a fire. You can prevent circuit overloads by calculating how much current a circuit can handle. First, find out the capacity of your circuit and its breaker. Then, add up the amps your appliances are demanding from the circuit. A capacity of 15 amps (or 1,800 watts), for example, cannot safely handle a 10-amp space heater and a six-amp coffee maker. Calculate your acceptable amps to prevent overload or unplug items until your circuit breaker stops tripping.

Long-Term Circuit Breaker Solutions

Tripping a circuit breaker generally isn’t a big deal, as you can remedy the overload and prevent future trips. You may encounter bigger problems, however, if you have a “nuisance trip” or if you need your circuit to handle a greater number of amps. A nuisance trip describes a circuit breaker that continuously trips, even when you know you aren’t causing a current overload. This problem could indicate a defective or broken circuit breaker that requires replacement. It could also be due to wiring problems, such as damaged or worn cords.

If you need your circuit breaker to handle a higher electricity load (i.e., if you’re installing floodlights in your yard), the answer might be to install a new circuit and outlet. Installing a new circuit dedicated to powering your flood lights, space heater, or other appliance that’s causing an overload can be a great longterm solution. Electricians will generally recommend installing a dedicated circuit if an appliance is going to require more than half the amp capacity of a circuit. Talk to an electrician for more information about how circuit breakers work.


A wobbly ceiling fan is inefficient and a nuisance. There are several different reasons your fan might not be stable. If your fan is giving you trouble, follow these steps:

  • Check if the fan is connected to a fan-specific electrical box. Only install fans with boxes meant for fans, not for light fixtures.
  • Check to make sure blades and blade irons are an even distance from the ceiling. Put one end of a paint stirring stick on the ceiling and mark the distance to the tip of the iron and then to the blade. Do the same for each blade of the fan, and compare the results. If there is a difference, make adjustments.
  • Balance the blades. Balancing kits are available at your local hardware store, or you can tape coins to the fan blade as weights.

Use these simple tips to stop the wobble in your ceiling fan before it becomes a danger to your house and your family.


For most of us, the closet is where we store our clothes—and hangers are what we use to organize them. And while it may seem as simple as stashing your clothes on a hanger and being done, proper clothing storage requires a little more thought.

When picking out hangers, you want to make sure the ones you have meet the needs of your wardrobe. Varying sizes are necessary to keep clothes in good shape; heavier clothes should go on sturdier hangers, and metal hangers aren’t worth it at all when compared to other hanger materials.

You should also keep heavy knitwear, such as sweaters, off of hangers altogether. The weight of the clothes themselves can cause the knit to distort when hanging. Instead, fold and store them, either in drawers or on cotton or canvas hanging closet organizers.

For dress pants, you don’t want to fold them in half and hang them. Instead, use hangers with felt lined clips to help preserve creases.


If you’ve ever needed to solder a fitting onto copper pipe, then you know that you need to drain the water out of the pipe so the solder melts properly. While this sounds simple enough, draining water out of a vertical pipe can be tricky.

Detach the spray nozzle from a spray bottle or an empty bottle of cleaning solution. The nozzle should have a thin, flexible tube that extends below the screw cap. This tube carries whatever contents are in the spray container through the nozzle, and you can use it to quickly empty a vertical pipe.

Simply insert the flexible tube from the spray nozzle into the copper pipe that you wish to drain. Have a small basin or container nearby to catch the water, and then simply squeeze to draw the water out of the pipe, through the spray nozzle and into the wastewater container. Instead of fumbling with clunky draining methods, a simple spray nozzle can help you drain a vertical copper pipe easily in minutes.


Running out of storage in your shower? We’ve got some tricks to add more space for all your favorite shower accessories.

Most hardware stores sell a shelf option for the shower head, except you only have one pipe. Install cabinet knobs in your shower wall using hanger screws and drywall anchors, and you can add as many of these storage shelves as needed.

Attach a piece of one-inch PVC pipe to your shower caddy with zip ties resting in two ⅛-inch notches as a resting place for your razor.

Head to your local tile store and ask for a flat-back corner shelf unit. Use soap scum remover to clean the existing tile and apply double-faced foam tape to attach. Put caulk around the edges to seal the tape from any moisture.

With an extra shower shelf and more storage units, you’ll have a place to keep the whole family’s favorite soaps. Consider color coding accessories for even more organizational points.

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