Q: The screws in the top hinge of my entrance door have become so loose they can no longer be tightened, causing the door to sag so that...

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Q: The screws in the top hinge of my entrance door have become so loose they can no longer be tightened, causing the door to sag so that it is difficult to close. How can I repair this?

A: There are a number of ways to tighten loose hinge screws, some of which are quite simple and easy. One time-honored remedy is to remove the loose screw, spread some wood glue on two or three flat toothpicks and force the toothpicks into the hole. Let the glue dry, then cut the toothpicks off flush with the surface of the hinge recess. Put the screw back in and tighten it. It should grip firmly.

A few other simple solutions:

• Remove the screw and pack the hole with wood putty such as Plastic Wood. Force the putty into the hole with a nail or small dowel — just a little putty at the surface won’t work. Let the putty dry thoroughly before you replace the screw.

• Take one of the screws to a hardware store and buy new screws with the same head size, but at least 1/2-inch longer. The longer screws will bite into new wood at the rear of the hole.

• If a screw is only a little loose, it will often help to coat the threads of the screw with glue before tightening it.

• The classic repair, and probably the best, is to enlarge the old holes with a drill so that 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch dowels can be glued into each hole. When the glue dries, pilot holes slightly smaller than the screws are drilled into the dowels. This repair will keep the hinge snug for years.

Q: We are planning to remove the old asphalt shingles from our roof and install new shingles. The roof sheathing is boards, which have some knotholes. Can we fix the knotholes, or should we replace the boards with plywood sheets?

A: If the boards are otherwise in good condition, a few small, random knotholes shouldn’t be a problem since they will be covered by roofing felt and new shingles. However, my advice is to pick a roofer you trust and follow his advice after he inspects the roof. Perhaps only a few boards need to be replaced. Keep in mind that the roof sheathing will need to last at least another 20 years — the probable life of new shingles.


Reader Ernest Aguayo points out that toilet-tank leaks aren’t always caused by faulty flapper valves. Water leaking into the bowl, he says, can also be caused by failure of the toilet to shut off the water properly after a flush. In this case, the tank overfills and water flows into the overflow tube, a vertical pipe usually located near the center of the tank, and then runs into the bowl.

In toilets with a ball-type float on a long rod, which is designed to shut off the water into the tank at the proper level, an overflow can often be stopped by bending the rod downward slightly so the float’s position is lowered and the water shuts off sooner. An overflow can be detected by removing the lid of the tank, flushing and observing whether the water flowing back into the tank shuts off at the proper level.

Ball-type cut-offs can also malfunction if the float-ball springs a leak and takes on water, making it heavier and preventing it from rising high enough to shut off the incoming water. Replacement float-balls are available at some home centers.

Questions may be sent to Gene Austin at doit861@aol.com or 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422. Sorry, no personal replies.