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Single Mom Survival Guide: How To Be ‘Handymom’

You don’t have to rely on hubby or a handyman to fix everything for you.


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Single mom. In pantsuits, she’s a savvy career woman. Wielding a spatula, a kitchen maverick. With a toddler tugging on one hand and a cooing baby in her arms, a super mom. But clutching a wrench, she’s just a damsel in distress. And in times of such “stressful events,” moms like Loni Garcez find it best to hire a handyman to fix “manly problems.”

First of all, not every mom has extra bucks to spare for a tubero. Second, there’ll be times when the guy won’t be free until your bathroom’s morphed into a swimming pool. And third, with no man around the house old enough to fend off felons, how safe would you feel about strange men coming into your house?
Skil Power Tools marketing services manager Martin Valenzuela and Top Gear Magazine consumer editor Botchi Santos share some easy how-tos.

Flush down your clog problems without draining your wallet.

Sink and lavatory
1. If the drain’s only slightly clogged, open it by removing the drain stopper and probing for hair and other debris with a short piece of wire. Not working? Try a plunger. Remember to plug overflow outlets first with tape or rags before plunging away.

2. Give the “old-school” method a shot. After removing the basket strainer from the drain, run two inches of hot water in the sink. Pump plunger directly over the clogged drain for a few minutes.

3. Still clogged? Use liquid drain products. Read labels carefully, though, as some drain cleaners can’t be used with PVC pipes. Also, never unscrew a trap with chemicals present and never mix different types of chemicals. The trap connects the vertical sink pipe and the horizontal pipe that’s attached to the wall beneath the lavatory. Known as the “P” or “S” trap, it’s the perfect way to retrieve items such as tiny jewelry.

4. Barado pa?
•    Set a pail underneath the sink trap and remove the cleanout plug and washer (round metal disc inside the trap) using a wrench. If the drain is only slightly clogged, a few quick probes with a screwdriver may end your problem.
•    If not, use a plumber’s snake or drain auger through the pipe (which sometimes can be done without removing the sink trap). Loosen the thumb screw on the plumber’s snake and move the handle back about 3 inches. Insert the snake into the drainpipe, rotate the auger, feed it in, then rotate again. Drive the snake deeper into the pipe by repeating this process.
•    After the drainpipe is opened, replace the cleanout plug and washer. Run hot water through the pipe to carry away any accumulations.

To recover jewelry, follow these instructions:

Step 1 Place a basin or bucket to catch water from the trap. If chemicals are present, use a chemical-resistant bucket, wear chemical-resistant gloves, and shield eyes.

Step 2 Loosen the two end nuts of the couplings. You may need a wrench pipe. Once the trap comes free, retrieve the lost item or remove the plug.

Step 3 Check the washers for any damage when returning the trap. If they’re damaged, replace them now and save yourself from a leak later on.

Get handy on the highway.

Changing a flat tire
First, park in a safe place, such as the emergency shoulder lane, or find well-lit areas with lots of other people. Set up red and yellow triangular Early-Warning Device reflectors 20-50 meters behind your car to warn other motorists. Pull the handbrake all the way up, making sure the car is secure, and get your tools out. Try to find a sizeable rock to use as wheel-chock (kalso) for the other tires. Now, you’re ready to change your tire:

•    Wedge jack underneath a solid portion of the car’s under-chassis near the wheel you’re changing. Raise jack ever so slightly so it exerts just enough pressure under the chassis but not enough to lift it yet. You need to slightly loosen the wheel lug-nuts before you jack the car up.

•    Loosen lug-nuts in an X-pattern. The lug-nuts should be loose enough to turn with the jack, but not too loose that you can turn them with your own fingers.

•    Once lug-nuts have been loosened slightly, raise jack completely until the car tire is 2-3 inches off the ground. Remove lug-nuts completely then install spare tire. Tighten lug-nuts in an X-pattern as well, but not completely, as too much pressure might topple the car off the jack.

•    Lower jack completely until car tires are fully resting on the ground, then tighten the lug-nuts until you hear that clicking sound. You can slot a bar onto the jack for added leverage in loosening or tightening the lug-nuts.

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Jumpstarting a dead battery
The battery terminals might be dirty or the wire clamps loose. Try cleaning them and tightening the clamps. If the car still won’t start, here’s what you can do:

A.    Using jumper wires
•    Find another car to attach the opposite ends (positive: red; negative: black terminals) of those you’ll be putting on your car.
•    With its engine running, park the other car near yours. Pop both hoods and attach positive (red) terminals first on your car’s proper battery terminal then onto the other car. Attach negative (black) terminals first onto your car’s proper battery terminal before attaching onto the running car’s battery terminal. Make sure connections are secure and cables aren’t pulled too tight.
•    Get in your car, put gearshift in neutral (for manual transmission) or P (for automatic). Slot keys onto the “on” position and check if all your warning lamps illuminate. If it does, start your car’s engine.
•    Disconnect jumper cables from both cars: positive (red) first before the negative (black).
•    Once it’s running properly, let idle for 10-15 minutes before driving away. Try not to use any of the electrical accessories (aircon, radio, headlights, etc.) for 20 minutes.

B.    Tulak for manual transmission cars
•    Find helpers to push your car along a deserted stretch of the road. Get in, put keys into “on” position, slot gearshift into second gear and step on clutch pedal fully.
•    Once your friends have pushed the car, wait for the speed to reach 30kph or so, then slowly release clutch pedal until engine catches momentum and starts.
•    Once it starts, slot gearshift into neutral and let car idle for 5-10 minutes to charge the battery. Again, avoid using the electrical accessories for proper charging of battery.

If the temperature gauge rises well above halfway-point, park your car at a safe place, preferably a gas station or a decent-looking car shop where gas boys/mechanics can take a look at your car.
Once you’ve found a safe place to park:
•    Pop hood open and let engine cool down on its own for at least one-and-a-half to two hours. Do not open radiator cap as the cooling system is pressurized; if you open it too soon, boiling coolant and water will gush out.
•    Once engine has cooled down, open it and check how much water and coolant is left inside. Refill it to the brim and check for leaks from the radiator core, the rubber hoses, or from under the engine itself. If there’s a visible leak, don’t start the car. Have the car towed to your mechanic.
•    After refilling with water and coolant, start the car and check if temperature’s still rising. If it is, there’s a hidden leak. Don’t risk driving it, call a tow truck.
•    If temperature gauge appears steady, drive off slowly but bring a gallon of water in case engine overheats anew.


Handy solutions to common electrical problems from electrical engineer Cesar Bravo.
Tripped circuit breaker
A breaker trips and cuts off the flow of electricity in a circuit when there is too much current (i.e., during overload or short circuit condition) to operate safely. They are small, usually horizontal switches labeled by house areas they serve, e.g. “kitchen” or “bathroom.”

1. Turn off light switches and unplug appliances in the room that has lost power.
2. Open the circuit breaker box cover and locate the tripped breaker (usually identified by an orange/red light). The tripped breaker is in “off” position or positioned in between “on” and “off.”
3. Identify and correct the malfunction (too many lamps and appliances plugged into the circuit, damaged cord/plug, short circuit or loose connections in receptacle/switch/fixture) before resetting the circuit breaker.
4. Using only one hand and standing to the side to avoid electric sparks (in case of breaker malfunction), reset breaker by moving it to full “off” position and then back to “on.” Repeat the procedure until circuit breaker toggle switch is fixed.

Blown fuse
1.  Turn off all lights and unplug all appliances.
2.   Pull down the lever of the fuse box.
3.  Open the fuse box door and locate blown fuse using a flashlight. Look for a blackened area on the plug fuse. If there is none, identify the blown fuse according to the circuit label (map) printed on the box door or next to each fuse.
4. If a fuse is burnt in the middle and the ends are intact, an overloaded circuit is the cause. Unplug all appliances and switch off lights from that circuit.
5.  Replace blown fuse with a new one of the same amperage.
6. Close the fuse box door and push up the lever.

SMART TIP: In a deserted place at night? Just run your car with a completely flat tire until you reach a safe place to change it. Run below 40kph with your hazard lights on the outermost lane of the road. A tire is cheaper than your life.

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