Your home needs ongoing maintenance to stay in tip-top condition, but hiring someone is often costly. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t mind a challenge or dirty hands, many household repairs are simple to do.
Here are five basic repairs that every homeowner should know how to do that don’t require an expensive expert.
Stop a Squeak
Most homes have at least one door that squeaks. Often times, it’s just a matter of lubricating the top and bottom hinges with machine oil or WD-40.
If the squeaky door is on a cabinet, it may have a European hinge with adjustment screws you can tinker with to realign the door. Check YouTube if you don’t know how to do this. All you need is a bit of patience and a screwdriver.
Plunge a Toilet
It happens to everyone – you flush and instead of the water swooshing out of the toilet, it just sits there. Your first instinct might be panic, but don’t worry. Most times you can unclog a toilet with an inexpensive plunger specifically designed to do the job.
There must be enough water in the toilet to cover the top of the rubber on the plunger. If there isn’t, fill the toilet using a bucket or bowl – don’t flush! Situate the plunger over the drain in the bottom of the toilet. Use a strong downward thrust to force air into the drain. You may have to do this many times before the waste water flushes out of the toilet.
Flip a Breaker
Do you know what to do if your house loses power and everyone else’s home has it? You’ll need to locate the breaker box in your home and if you don’t know where it is, it’s a good idea to find it before you find yourself without electricity. Usually it’s a grey cabinet mounted on the wall in the basement, laundry room, or garage. When you open the door, you’ll see a bank of breakers.
Breakers are long, narrow switches that control certain plugs and lights in your home. When a breaker “trips” the switch moves from the “on” to the “off” position. You can often find the tripped breaker, because it is in the opposite position from the other switches. Just flip it all the way to the right and back to the left, and you should have lights again.
Patch a Hole
Perhaps your child slammed a door into the wall and the handle left a hole in the sheetrock. Don’t worry – this is a simple repair, but it does take time.
You’ll need a sheetrock square bigger than the hole. Lay the square over the hole and trace the square’s outline. Using a drywall saw knife, cut from the center of the hole towards the four corners. Score the outline with a utility knife and carefully remove the sheetrock.
Slide a narrow piece of wood 6 inches longer than the hole into the opening. Drill through the existing sheetrock into the wood, using drywall screws. Anchor the wood with two screws at the top and two at the bottom. Then screw the sheetrock patch onto the wood.
Using a 6-inch taping knife, trowel a thin layer of joint compound over everything. Allow to dry overnight.
To finish, use a 12 inch taping knife to trowel on a thin layer at least 6 inches beyond the existing patch. Allow to dry and sand with fine sandpaper. Remove the dust and you’re ready to paint.
Shut Off Water
No one plans on a flooded home, but it can happen. Water heaters malfunction, pipes burst, and tubs leak. Your home has a main water line with a valve and many homeowners don’t know where it is.
If you live in a city, it’s usually on the wall facing the street. You’ll see where the pipe comes in from outside. Most valves look like your outdoor tap for your hose. Turn it clockwise to close the valve.
Always research a project before you jump in. Talk to the staff at a home improvement center, watch a video on YouTube, or read up on the particular repair. You’ll want to understand every step of the project and whether you have the skills to do it. You may discover that many repairs are within your grasp to save you maintenance dollars.