This Home Hacks Super Page contains several frugal money saving tips for finding free appliance parts, removing sticky residue, fixing light strings and creating substitute potpourri!
Tips on this page include: Recycled Refrigerator Handles, 3 Easy Ways to Remove Sticky Sticker Residue, Light String Fix and Repair, Hot Stuff for BBQ, It Makes Scents, How to clean magic marker off of a painted surface
Beating Expensive Appliance Replacement Parts
What do you do when a part of an expensive appliance break? The cost to buy new parts for an old appliance is usually really expensive. That was until I discovered another option.
The Savings from Recycled Appliance Parts
Twice I have visited an appliance recycling center and obtained excellent material to replace refrigerator door handles. With only a screwdriver, a hacksaw and a drill I now have handles much better than the originals. Of course, accurate measurements and a tape measure are essential. Our county puts old appliances in a central location where the public is welcome to remove any unit or part free of charge. There is a wealth of material available with very little work–chrome bars and knobs, stainless steel bolts and screws, even wire racks which I think are much preferable to the glass shelves manufacturers seem to think the public wants. Jean Fountain – Iowa City, IA
Adhesive left from removing price stickers from book covers, DVD / CD cases, tins, toys and other household purchases can be a sticky mess and difficult to deal with. Just know that the longer a label is left on, the harder it is to get the remaining adhesive off. Over time the glue hardens and crystallizes rendering it almost impossible to remove. Removing stickers immediately after purchase is your best bet to getting the adhesive off.
Here are three easy ways to remove adhesive residue in a few seconds.
- Cooking Oil. It doesn’t really matter what kind you use. It can be vegetable, olive, canola, cooking oil spray. Most adhesives are oil based and by using another type of oil, it simply dissolves the adhesive. Caution, don’t use oil on uncoated paper or cloth products, it will leave a stain.
- Motor Oil or WD40. If you don’t have any cooking oil one of these two products will work. We like WD40 because it is lighter, spray-able and stores well. Simply apply a little of the oil to a rag or paper towel and rub the adhesive residue until it dissolves.
- Denatured Alcohol. This is one of our favorite household cleaning solutions. It removes adhesive residue easily without staining. It also removes magic marker from plastic, metal and coated (shiny) paper, and it removes paint spatters from woodwork without removing the finish or older paint.
Watch as Steve tries all 3 solvents to remove old stickers from DVD cases.
What do you use to get sticky, sticker adhesive off?
If you have another solution, please leave a comment below.
We were on a walk through our neighborhood and found this lovely toy chest sitting on the curb waiting for our quarterly bulk trash pick up. We opened the lid and checked the hinges—they worked great! Then we looked at each other and said, we’ve got to grab the van and pick this up. Steve came back and loaded it up just before another person in a pick-up truck drove by looking for curbside bargains.
Besides being a little dirty, there was scribbled magic marker in a couple of spots. Magic Marker is not a problem if you know the secret to removing it from painted surfaces.
Front of Toy Chest – left with marker, right with marker cleaned off
The top of the toy chest before and after cleaning with denatured alcohol.
The Secret of magic marker removal.
Buy a can of denatured alcohol, apply with a rag and gently rub in a circular motion. The marker will usually come off in less than 30 seconds. Caution: if you rub too long, you will remove some paint, so be gentle. We’ve used denatured alcohol to remove marker, spattered paint on stained baseboards and molding and gold metallic marker from painted surfaces — it has worked great.
Other Marker cleaning hacks:
Our Facebook Fans submitted these ideas for removing magic marker from painted surfaces.
- Alicia Dodson Bishop — a magic eraser removes permanent marker from things.
- Ashley Edwards — alcohol pads remove magic marker from solid surface
Sheri McDonald Hepworth — The way to clean off magic marker is to write over the scribbles with dry erase markers.
More and more people are decorating their homes, indoors and out with strings of miniature lights all year round. They look beautiful, but one of the problems with these lights is dealing with sections that won’t light or bulbs that burn out. We’ve found a tool that we’ve used to repair dozens of strings of miniature lights – and it’s so inexpensive!
Watch the video where Steve shows you how he fixes holiday light strings now.
The Problem with Being Frugal
In the past, we only put up miniature lights for the holidays. But now, we’ve got them on an indoor ficus tree, over our patio, in our atrium and over the archways leading into our family room. And we keep these strings up all year long. Being frugal, and not wanting to waste money, Steve would relentlessly try to salvage old strings of lights when a section would go bad or bulbs would burn out.
Burned out Light Strings Cost Us Time
He realized that while the light strings only cost about $3.50 (on sale) for 100 lights it’s time-consuming to replace them. Every year after the holidays, Steve would spend several hours checking each string and replacing burned out bulbs, Then he’d carefully wrap up the light strings and put them away. You can imagine the frustration he experienced the next year when he pulled the lights out found that several of the strings were half burned out (or unlit). How discouraging. He’d have to test and repair them all over again – a colossal waste of time!
A Time Saving Light String Hack
Several year ago while doing research on YouTube about how to repair light strings that won’t light up, Steve learned about the Light Keeper Pro. He ran out and bought it for about $14. In the first year of using the Light Keeper Pro, Steve salvaged 14 strings of lights that weren’t working. And spent much less time doing it . . . and less time muttering about light string manufacturers.
How Much Has the Light Keeper Pro Saved Us?
If each string of lights cost $2 (we always buy them on sale), the Light Keeper Pro paid for itself twice in the first year – saving us $28! And in subsequent years it has resurrected more than 30 strings of lights – bringing the total savings to ($60 minus the original $14 investment) $46. But we have also lent it to a few friends, so the savings is even greater!
How Does the Light Keeper Pro Work?
The wires on the strings of lights carry the electrical current to each light bulb, through the filament (the part that lights up) and back into the wire to head to the next bulb. If a bulb burns out, the current is carried through a little part called a shunt at the bottom of the bulb. Because of this shunt, when one bulb burns out, the rest of the string can stay lit.
But sometimes the shunt gets “dirty” and doesn’t let electricity flow through it. Steve thinks it gets oxidized, but let’s just say it impedes the flow of electricity.
How Do You Clean A Mini Light Shunt?
By plugging the light string to the Light Keeper Pro and clicking the trigger, you send a short burst of current through the string. This electrical current is designed to unclog the shunts. And it works!!
It’s amazing to watch as a string of lights that was previously only half lit, come completely to life afterward. Watch the video as Steve troubleshoots a string of white Christmas lights that is only half lit. After replacing a broken bulb and then clicking the Light Keeper Pro 30 times, the entire string of Christmas lights is fixed!
What Else Does Light Keeper Pro Do to Fix Light Strings
Watch this video as Brian Gleason of Light Keeper Pro explains how to solve that age-old problem of repairing light strings that stop working.
The Light Keeper Pro is also designed to check continuity, looking for broken wires or burned out bulbs. It also has a socket to test individual bulbs and lights them up if they aren’t burned out. And one more thing it has is a tool for helping you pull the bulbs out of the string so you don’t need to break fingernails.
So this year, we hope you put up your strings of lights or add to the ones you keep up year-round you’ll be singing a happy tune rather than muttering and grumbling about the people who created those miniature lights.
Very Important Note About the Original Light Keeper Pro:
The Original Light Keeper Pro is not designed to work on LED, rope sets or light sets with controllers.
We purchased our Light Keeper Pro at a local retail store, but it isn’t something they stock any longer. However, we know for sure that you can purchase the Light Keeper Pro at Amazon.
Light Keeper Pro for LED have designed a new product that works with LED and other types of lights – we haven’t tested it, but if they make it, we’re pretty sure that it’s going to work great!
I use old Hot Sparks to light my bar-b-que. After the butane runs out the spark will light a gas bar-b-que as long as you turn on the gas. It works great. I’ve been doing this for at least 5 years. The Hot Spark has a magneto inside that will never wear out. Sylvester Meola – Scottsdale, AZ
For those that are sensitive to potpourri here is a recipe that I was given. It works great for removing odors — particularly fish— or for making your house smell like you have been baking!
- 1 to 3 Cinnamon sticks
- Put water in a small pan begin by boiling the water and cinnamon sticks on top of the stove.
- Then simmer for as long as you like. I leave mine on the stove and reuse for days by just adding more water as needed.
- Just remember to check periodically as the water will evaporate and you could end up burning the pan and the cinnamon sticks. Tina Chester – San Bruno, CA
How Old is That Appliance
Over your lifetime you’ll spend thousands of dollars on appliances — washers, dryers, microwaves, refrigerators, freezers, stoves and more. There are always tons of these items listed on CraigsList.org and in newspaper classified ads. The problem is finding appliances that are gently used, in good condition and selling at a good price.
One of the tools we use is a website called Appliance411.com. They’ve got information on buying new appliances, getting repair parts, appliance recalls, hiring a repair person and even a Q&A Forum.
But the coolest part of their website is the date code search page.
When you’re buying a used appliance if you can get the serial number, this website can tell you when it was manufactured. This is a big deal because many people selling used appliances can’t remember exactly how old an appliance is. We know, many years ago we bought a dryer that was supposed to be 10 years-old and when we checked out the serial number we discovered it was 25 years-old. Oh, if we’d only known — we never would have bought that dryer.
Don’t Cross That Line – Dealing with Home Property Line Disputes
I recently had a property dispute with a new neighbor who claimed her survey (which was 10 years old and from the previous owner) said that I was encroaching on her property by two-and-one-half feet!
I had never had a property survey – it just wasn’t needed when I purchased my house 45 years ago. But to be sure of what was right, I paid for a surveyor to do the job. It turned out that the property line was correct and I was protected. It seems that old-fashioned gentleman’s agreements of the past are long gone. Ann Nieser – Pittsburgh, PA
If you have a home hacks tip or quick fix to share, please leave it in the comments below and we’ll review it for posting on this page.