With all of the plugging and unplugging, wall sockets can take a beating that can result in them working loose or simply breaking. You can call an electrician to fix them, but the task is really a very simple one as long as you take the proper simple precautions.
Throw the Breaker
Before you even touch the outlet with a tool, the first thing you should do is turn on all the lights in the house and then find your breaker box. When you open up the breaker box, you should see a bunch of switches and a guide of some sort that has parts of the house labeled. Read the guide to figure out which switches control power to which parts of the house.
If you don’t have a guide, you can make one by throwing one of the small switches and then going back through the house to make a note of which lights or appliances have lost power. Using this technique, you can map out how each breaker switch controls the power circuits in your home.
Once you’ve identified the breaker switch that controls power to the circuit that the socket you need to replace is on, make sure it’s in the off position. Head back into the room with the socket and double check that all the other sockets or lights in the room have also lost power by flipping light switches and trying to plug in simple appliances to verify that the lights and the sockets are on the same circuit that has been disconnected.
Remove the Broken Socket
Wall sockets are most commonly covered by a rectangular plastic plate. This plate typically covers the hole in the drywall through which the socket extends. With whatever type of screwdriver is appropriate, unscrew the plate and pull it free. If the socket itself comes out with the plate, that’s ok. If the plate comes off separately from the socket, you’ll need to unscrew whatever screws are holding the socket into the drywall.
Once you have the socket free of the wall, pull it out so that you have some slack and some of the wiring extending out of the wall. If you have a camera phone, it’s a good idea to take a picture of how the wires connect to the socket for reference. There will be at least two wires, one black (hot) and one white (neutral). There may be a third bare wire for grounding, but don’t worry if it’s not there.
The next step is to remove the wire contacts from the socket. To do this, you’re going to have to hold the socket with one hand while you unscrew the contacts to free the wires. When you take hold of the socket, grip it by the plastic frame and make sure to keep your fingers clear of the wires and terminals. Throwing the breaker should have disconnected the power from the socket, but even experienced electricians sometimes make mistakes so it’s best to play it safe.
Unscrew the contacts to free the wires. When one wire is freed, grip it by the rubber coating and bend it so that the exposed wire points away from the others. When all the wires are disconnected, you can dispose of the broken socket.
Install the New Socket
The steps to install the new socket are simply the reverse of removing the broken socket. Wrap the wires from the wall around the correct screw terminal and use the screwdriver to tighten the terminals. Look at the packaging of the new socket or read the labels on the socket body to determine which terminal is black/hot, white/neutral, and bare/ground.
Once all the wires are connected to the proper terminals, replace the socket into the wall by feeding the wire bundle back into the wall first and then screwing the socket back into the drywall frame and replacing the plate covering.
Test Your Work
With the socket replaced, plug in an appliance and throw the breaker back to the ‘on’ position. If the appliance is powered on, you did it correctly! If not, double check that you threw the correct breaker. If your appliance still stays off, return the breaker switch to the ‘off’ position and remove the socket to check the wire terminals to make sure that they didn’t come loose while you were putting the socket back in the wall.
Cookies are delicious. They’re especially delicious when you make them yourself. They’re still more delicious when you take the time to make them completely from scratch. Sure, you can go to the store and by a tube of pre-mixed cookie dough, cut it into sections, slap them on a cookie sheet and throw it in the oven, but you cheat yourself out of the pride of accomplishment that way. You're missing out on what could otherwise be quality time spent with your family engaged in a tradition.
Baking cookies from scratch isn’t tough. As long as you have the basic materials and can measure the ingredients correctly, you can turn flour, eggs, and sugar into delicious cookies.
It’s important to remember that while cookies are delicious, the point here is to spend time with your family and learn a life skill. If it doesn’t go exactly right or if the cookies aren’t as delicious as you had hoped, that’s ok.
My wife taught me a great way to deal with a failure in the kitchen. If the food is still edible, don’t toss it out or present it as a failed attempt. Instead, give it a new name and present it as the first time that anyone has served such a meal.
Mowing the lawn is one of the typical jobs that kids do to earn extra pocket money. The image of a kid dragging his mower up and down neighborhood streets knocking on doors and offering to mow the lawn for a few bucks is not an uncommon one.
Lawn mowers come in many different configurations and with many different features. Some are gas powered, others are electric. Some are mulchers, some are baggers, others are side dischargers. Most suburban homes use some flavor of small push mower so that’s what we’ll focus on here.
Before we get to the actual act of mowing the lawn, we need to do some quick maintenance first to make sure that the mower is ready to go.
If your mower is a gas powered mower, you have to check the fuel level. You can do this typically by looking at the side of the tank or by unscrewing the fuel cap and looking into the tank. It’s a good practice to top off the fuel tank before each cutting.
Some common mix ratios are 32:1 or 50:1. This means that for every 1 ounce of oil in the mix, there needs to be 32 or 50 ounces of unleaded gas. Hardware stores sell the oil in standard sizes that make it easy to mix in with a gallon of gas at a time. If you fill up a gallon gas can with unleaded, you’ll need 2.6 ounces of oil to make a 50:1 mix or 4 ounces of oil to make a 32:1 mix. Be sure to label your mixture to avoid using the wrong fuel in the wrong engines.
Push mowers all have some kind of safety bar on the handle. In order for the mower’s engine to run, this bar has to be held against the handle. If the safety bar is released, a running mower is stopped.
A gas powered mower will typically have a pull starter. To get this one going can require some finesse. With one hand, hold the safety bar against the handle and with the other hand, grip and pull sharply on the pull cord. Pulling gently won’t do the job, you’ve got to actually assert yourself here.
An electric mower should also need the safety bar to be held against the handle, but you’ll likely have a switch or button to press to activate the engine.
If you tip the mower on it’s side, you can see the blades that spin and actually cut the grass. You can remove the blade with a wrench and sharpen the cutting edge with a Dremel or metal file if you’re feeling frisky. For the moment, just make sure that the blade is clear of any obstructions and can spin freely.
A mulcher is a mower that cuts the grass and then cuts the clippings into smaller bits that end up back on the lawn. This has a number of advantages, but the easiest to identify is that there isn’t any need for dealing with the clippings. With a mulcher, you just run the mower over the lawn and are done.
A bagger is a mower that collects the clippings in a bag usually at the rear of the mower. This style is very common and requires that you stop periodically to empty the bag into a disposal of some kind. It’s typical to use a lined garbage can or a garden waste bin for the clippings.
A side discharging mower is one that simply shoots the clippings out the side of the mower. These end up leaving large, nasty clumps of cut grass scattered all over your lawn. This might be ok for large fields or back yards, but if you intend to take pride in your work, try to avoid this type of mower.
Before you start mowing the lawn, you should give it a once over to see if you can spot any large rocks or pine cones or any other obstruction that might get hit by the blades when the mower passes over it. Not only can this damage the blades of the mower, but it can also end up as a projectile that can hit you in the feet or legs.
You should also choose a pattern that you intend to follow. If you’re going to mow the lawn regularly, try to choose a different pattern each time to prevent the grass from growing in that pattern.
Get To It
With your mower ready and your lawn prepped, it’s time to get to it. Start in one corner of the lawn and start walking the pattern that you’ve selected. Take care to make sure that your wheels line up inside the tracks you leave in previous passes. Having the wheel tracks interlocking ensures that you don’t leave ridges of long grass between passes you take with the mower.
Also, if you’re using a bagger mower, keep an eye on how full the bag is getting. If you see that it’s getting full, stop mowing and empty the bag. Also keep an eye on your feet. If they’re getting covered in clippings, then it’s likely that either the bag is full or the vent from the cutting deck to the bag is clogged with clippings. To check for this, release the safety bar, tip the mower on it’s side and check under the deck to see that the vent is clear. As long as the mower is off, you can reach in and clear this with your hand if you need to.
Once you’ve cut the whole lawn, you’re almost all done. You still need to clean up your tools and make sure that the clippings are all disposed of properly. Tip the mower on it’s side again and either use your hand or a hose to spray out any clippings that are stuck to the inside. Be sure to run a towel over the blades when you’re done to help prevent rusting.
Double-check that you’ve disposed of all the clippings correctly and that there aren’t large clumps of clippings strewn across the yard. Also make sure that there aren’t ridges of long grass in your freshly cut lawn. These two things are the most common and easiest to identify signs that the person who cut the lawn didn’t take any pride in his work.
Shaving, like many other tasks, is a skill that is relatively easy to learn, but can take a long time to master depending on how deep you want to go. You can learn the skills necessary to scrape the hair off of your face in about 10 minutes. If, however, you want to take the time to learn how to handle a straight razor and sculpt your jawline, you can easily work to refine your technique for your entire life.
The instruction offered here is aimed more at the man who just needs to be clean-shaven every morning with a minimum of maintenance and effort. It’s a good starting point for the young man who has just started sprouting facial hair and is trying to learn the basics of the skill.
Spray a small dollop of shaving cream into the palm of your hand. If you use a gel, spray a somewhat smaller dollop and the rub your hands together to work it up into a cream. Once you have a handful of white foamy cream, just start rubbing it on your face. It’s not important where you start or end, just as long as the outline of where your beard and mustache grow is covered.
Don’t worry too much about making a mess. Shaving cream is easy to clean up with your hand towel or a damp rag.
Once your face is covered in shaving cream, the next step is to use the safety razor to scrape the hair and shaving cream off your face. There are three basic directions that you can pull the razor along your face:
The direction that you shave relative to the “grain” is determined by which direction the your whiskers are growing. For example, the whiskers on the side of a man’s face tend to grow downward towards his neck while the hairs on his neck tend to grow upwards towards his chin. Take the time to learn your facial topography before you start shaving.
With every stroke of the razor, it will collect an amount of shaving cream and whiskers. Rinse the blade after each stroke to ensure that you’re using a clean blade every time.
With the Grain
If you pull the razor in the same direction as the hair grows, then you are shaving with the grain. Shaving with the grain is a great place to start learning as it has the least likelihood of causing nicks and cuts and still produces a clean shave that will last most men through a workday.
Beside the Grain
If you pull the razor sideways across the direction that the hair grows, then you are shaving beside the grain. This is also a good way to get a close shave and is only slightly more prone to causing nicks and cuts.
Against the Grain
Finally, if you shave in the opposite direction that the hair grows, you’re shaving against the grain. This will give you the closest shave, but is also prone to causing nicks and cuts if your blades aren’t sharp. Shaving against the grain with a dull razor is bound to cause all kinds of unpleasantness.
Nicks and Cuts
At some point, you are going to cut yourself. It’s going to happen and it’s ok. The easiest way to deal with this is to take a small piece of wadded up toilet paper and press it onto the cut with your finger for at least 10 seconds to stop the bleeding. After the bleeding has stopped, leave the toilet paper bandage in place until you’re done shaving and then throw it away.
After you’ve shaved your face, it’s time to clean up and get ready to face the day. Splash warm water on your face to rinse off any remaining shaving cream or just use the towel to clean it away. Also, be sure to rinse out the sink. It’s a simple thing to do and will show respect for the other people that use the sink.
Pay attention to how your face feels throughout the day. Pay particular attention to the relationship between ingrown whiskers and the direction that you used to shave with. You can greatly influence the development of ingrown whiskers by learning how quickly your whiskers grow and the direction you shave.
If your whiskers grow slowly and you shave against the grain, you’ll likely end up with a lot of ingrown hairs as your skin will heal up over the follicle before it has a chance to grow out. If you notice ingrown hairs, try shaving with the grain so that you end up without such a close shave and your whiskers have a chance to regrow before your skin heals over them.
If you still have trouble with ingrown hairs even when you shave with the grain, try shaving with a set of electric clippers or a beard trimmer that will leave a stubble in place. You won’t get a smooth shave, but you also won’t get ingrown hairs.