How to Install a Smoke Detector & 2 More Household Tips

Work + Money

Barbara Kavovit
Barbara Kavovit





By Barbara Kavovit

In the first post of this series, you learned how to repair bathroom items like old showerheads and running toilets. In this post, you’ll learn how to install your own electrical and nonelectrical home items – all the while, saving money and becoming more self-sufficient.

1. Install a dual carbon monoxide and smoke detector

Safety First! Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, including the basement. Make sure there is an alarm near every sleeping area. Because smoke rises, mount smoke detectors approximately 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling. Do not install smoke detectors next to windows, doors, or ducts, where drafts might interfere with their operation. Test your smoke detector at least once a month. Change the batteries at least once a year, and make sure that your smoke detector is UL certified.

2. Install a new doorknob

Doorknobs are functional jewelry for your home. You will need a Phillips head screwdriver and your new doorknob set with the matching strike plate. Detach the doorknob using the screwdriver by pulling out all screws once they are loose. Remove the metal strike plate.  Insert the new bolt into the door and screw it into place.  The slanted side should face the direction that the door closes.  Place the new knob trim between one new doorknob and the door, and insert the doorknob.  Insert the other knob and trim piece on the other side of the door.  Make sure the two are aligned so that the long screws hold them together.  Tighten the screws gradually, alternating sides so that each comes together uniformly.

3. Install a dimmer switch

  • Step 1: Getting to the wiring: Unscrew the switch plate and the old switch and lift it out. If the box is metal, be careful not to let the screw terminals on the sides of the switch touch the box.
  • Step 2: Testing the circuit: Touch your tester to each wire. If the test light stays off, it is safe to proceed.
  • Step 3: Refresh the wiring: Before you replace any wires, especially on a three-way switch – note which wire attaches to each switch terminal. Use masking tape to mark each wire and write what it was attached to. Cut off the wires at the switch terminals and strip about 1/2" of insulation off the two cut switch wires.
  • Step 4: Match the wires: You've got a lot of choices here, so pay attention: If your dimmer has two black wires it has no polarity, so twist each dimmer wire together with either one of the switch wires and screw on a wire connector. If the dimmer has a green wire, connect it to the grounding wire. If a dimmer has black and red wires, wire the black one to the incoming power line and the red one to the lights. Keep the wires well apart from each other during this process. Gently fold the wires back into the box and attach the dimmer to the outlet box with screws. Replace the cover plate and press the dimmer dial on to the shaft of the dimmer.
  • Step 5: Let there be light: Restore the power and set the mood. You did it yourself!

After 10 years in the construction business, Barbara Kavovit launched Barbara K!, a line of home improvement tools for women and an extensive line of high-quality do-it-yourself kits. Her newest venture is Barbara's Way. She is also the author of Invest In Your Nest: Add Style, Comfort, and Value To Your Home, and Room for Improvement: Change Your Home! Enhance Your Life! With Tools, Tips and Inspiration from Barbara K!

Read the next post in the series: How to hang a picture, fix a squeaky bed, & more

Go back to the Kitchen Share Digg Tweeter Facebook StumbleUpon Send To a Friend