Fix It: Don't replace, repair!

To repair or not to repair, that is the question.

To repair or not to repair, that is the question. In this disposable society, we usually throw out a broken appliance rather than repair it. It is usually more expensive to replace an item than repair it, and all this electronic bulk is compounding our waste disposal problems. Sometimes the only thing wrong with a broken stereo is a faulty power cord, the only thing wrong with a cordless phone the battery, the only thing wrong with a light fixture the plug. Besides the sheer bulk of these items being disposed of, the polluting of our land by numerous rechargeable batteries can never fully be cleaned. Before disposing of your electronics, consider repairing them, and if not, donating these items to the needy or listing them on Web sites such as as "Janglo" and "Survivalinhardtimes." Rechargeable batteries can be safely sent for reclamation at most hardware stores. (If you must dispose of items with rechargeable batteries, remove the batteries first and send for reclamation). It can save the world for our children. Mr. Johnson writes, "I recently noticed some black mold growth on the back of my cabinets and on the boards I use to build my succa. I understand this mold can be dangerous to one's health. What can be done to remove both the mold and the smell that accompanies it?" You are right to be concerned. Mold presents a health risk and must be removed. It is very common to find mold behind furniture and on wood that is not stored with adequate ventilation. The mold must be removed with either bleach or a high phosphate detergent. I like to spray Clorox Wash on the problem areas and clean it off with clean rags and plenty of clean water. The mold will be gone, but the odor may stay. Use two coats of shellac or varnish to seal the clean surface. If cabinets are placed against a wall, allow adequate space for ventilation, and if necessary, use wooden blocks between cabinet and the wall. Doris of Herzliya asks, "Our sliding windows don't slide easily anymore. We have tried oil sprays on the tracks to no avail. Can anything be done besides replacing the windows to make them slide easily again?" I have found common bar soap helps sliding windows and doors. Just rub the soap onto the track and you will be amazed how well it works. Stubborn sliders may need the wheels replaced under them. Carefully remove the window (or door) from the sliding frame and place it on its side. Look at the sliding wheels located under the window (or door) and see if they move easily. If it's clogged with dirt and grime, clean it. If it is broken, Do It Yourself stores sell replacement parts; simply unscrew the old part and install the new one. One word of caution: be very careful replacing the window in its frame as it would be a shame to break the glass just when you are ready to finish up! S. Cohen of Acre writes, "There is quite a bit of dust and crumbs inside my computer keyboard. I have tried turning the keyboard upside down and blowing the dust out, to no avail. What can be done?" Most keys on most keyboards can be removed by gently prying them off. Once this has been done, it will be easy to clean the keyboard itself. Canned and compressed air can always be used; this is available in all better Do It Yourself Stores as well as electronic shops. Use the enclosed small straw and attach to the spray button. This spray can also be used to blow dust off window screens. The writer can be reached for consultations at