3 Easy Household Hacks Every 20-Something Should Know

Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Allowing little boys to fail at things is one way we train them to be confident. Too often, little boys are told, "Give it your best try!" while little girls are told, "Don't — you might wreck it." But, with the help of the classic The You Don't Need A Man To Fix It Book, we hope to motivate women to become self-confident handy-people.

In some ways, of course, The You Don't Need A Man To Fix It Book feels pretty dated. The tone is occasionally condescending (there's a section on how to flatter your electrician's ego to get him to show you how something works), plus advice on finding delicate lady-tools for your delicate lady-hands. Then again, things haven't really changed much since the book's original publication in 1973; you can now find an entire aisle of pink-washed tools at most big-box hardware stores.

Yet, in the age of Google and YouTube, this book is still an invaluable source of information on home repair. We think it deserves a second edition. But until then, in the spirit of this under-appreciated DIY classic, here are three handy home projects you can do now — no man necessary.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
How To Fix A Crooked Cabinet Door
This one is a simple problem with a simple fix. The problem: The screw holding the cabinet hinge in place is pulling out of the wood, creating a large hole and making the door hang crookedly.

We can fix it by just putting in a longer, wider screw — one that will grip the wood more tightly and hold up to more pressure. That's ultimately what we'll do, but first we'll fill the hole and replace the hinge, to show you how it's done.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
First, we removed the hinge, holding the cabinet door up while taking out the screws (to prevent the bottom hinge from ripping out).
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Then, we put wood filler in the hole. The new screw will grip without wood filler because it's longer than the old screw, but it's about the same diameter, and we don't want it to be loose.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Here are some screws for comparison. The one on the far right is the original screw that pulled out — as you can see, it's very short. The one on the far left is too long; if we managed to get it all the way in, it would probably stick out of the wood on the other side. We're hoping the one in the middle will be just right.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
We're replacing the entire cabinet hinge here. We were careful to buy the same size and type (bring the old hinge to the hardware store with you if you're not sure what to get), so this is a simple matter of popping out the old hinge and putting the new one in its place.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
All done!
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
How To Hang A Picture On Exposed Brick
A lot of apartments have brick walls or walls that are backed with cement. Often, when people figure out they're dealing with a cement-backed wall, they give up on using screws or nails to hang pictures or shelves — but this severely limits what you can do with your space. Here, we'll show you how to drill into mortar and use a plastic anchor, so you can get the most out of your wall.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Figure out how your picture hangs. In this case, there's a piano wire that rests almost at the top of the picture.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
With this in mind, figure out what height you'll be drilling your holes. With brick, be sure to place your holes in the mortar and not on the brick itself. When you mark the height, make sure you have the position centered where you want it.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
If you're using more than one screw, use a spirit level to get the holes perfectly aligned.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Using a masonry bit, hold your drill level and drill the holes just deep enough to fit the plastic anchor.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Then, use a hammer to gently tap the anchor into place. Don't get impatient! Light taps keep the anchor from flattening to one side or the other. But if this happens, pull out the damaged anchor with pliers and try again with a fresh one. It's important to either use the masonry bit that comes with your anchors or buy one the correct size for your anchors. When in doubt, ask an employee at your hardware store.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
The design of the plastic anchor is such that it compacts and fills the hole with a pliable material. Now, instead of screwing into the hard, crumbly mortar, there is a soft (but sturdy) filler to hold the screw. Using a handheld screwdriver, sink the screws into the anchors. Leave just enough exposed to hang your painting.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Now, hang up your picture and enjoy! You can use a spirit level to be sure everything is perfectly even.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
How To Install A USB Outlet
This project can add a lot of versatility to your outlets and can be used almost anywhere. It's really convenient to have for your workspaces and by your bed. Don't be daunted by the prospect or wiring; this is a really quick and easy project.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
WARNING: If you do not have access to the breaker for your home or apartment, you cannot do this project. If you do have access, the first step is to flip the breaker for the room you'll be working in.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Next, check the outlet with a voltage detector, to be sure there's no power flowing to it. (You can get these for pretty cheap from Home Depot).
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Now that the power is definitely cut off, remove the screws from the faceplate of the outlet and pull it off the wall. Set the plate and screws aside. Now, you'll see two more screws above and below the outlet itself. Removing these will allow you to pull the outlet out of the wall.

Check the depth of the recess you pulled the outlet from, and make sure the new USB outlet will fit. Once you've determined it's deep enough, take a look at the wires attached to the outlet. You'll see a black, a white, and a green wire — the hot, neutral, and grounding wires. It's important to attach these onto the correct screws on the new outlet, which should be labeled or color-coded.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Loosen the screws attaching the wires to the outlet, and then use needle-nosed pliers to remove them. Don't be discouraged if you have to tug at it a bit; the wires can be quite stiff. Now, attach the wires to the new outlet, making sure they are on the correct connectors. Once the wires are attached and tightened so they won't budge, push the outlet back into the recess. Again, the stiff wires may give you some resistance — keep at it! Screw the USB outlet into place, and then attach your new faceplate.
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Once you flip your breaker back on, test with your voltage detector to see that the outlet has power flowing to it. If it does, you're done! Charge away!
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Photographed by Amy Lombard.
Don't Be Embarrassed To Call A Professional
If there comes a point in a project that you realize you just can't do it, don't feel bad. If you do end up calling a professional, why not patronize a female technician or a woman-owned business? Women are heavily underrepresented as handy-people of all kinds, so just do a quick Google search and try to find one in your area.

Last, but not least: A Checklist

1. When you're taking something apart, think about how you're going to put it back together. Take pictures if you're not sure you'll remember.

2. Save everything. Put the screws in a cup or Ziploc bag as you take them out, so you won't lose them.

3. Don't do anything you can't undo — unless you're 100% sure you want to do it.

4. It's okay to call a professional.
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