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Buying a home is one of the largest life investments, and taking care of it doesn’t come cheap either. The need for repairs rises every now and then. But that doesn’t mean you have to open up your wallet for every single one.
If you were on the phone with a professional every time something breaks, now is the time to ask yourself if you could take a DIY approach.
There are some common home repairs you can handle even with very little experience, especially combined with all the online research available today. You may need to purchase some essential tools along the way, but the return of investment is guaranteed.
An Exception to a Rule
One thing that always justifies calling the professional is the need for electrical work, due to a great risk of injury. But, like every rule, this one also has an exception – everyone can replace a light switch.
Of course, precautions still come first – the circuit breaker needs to be off before you begin.
Remove the faceplate cover with a flathead screwdriver, then use the Philips one to unscrew the switch from the wall. On the back of it, you’ll see that two wires are connected to the screws. It’s mandatory to make sure there’s no electricity still running through. The easiest and safest way to check is to use a non-contact voltage tester.
After that, you just need to detach the wires from the old switch and attach them to the new one and screw it back to place.
Re-establishing the Flow
Leaky pipes can enlarge your bill for up to 20,000 liters per year if left unmended. Luckily, leaks most commonly occur under bathroom or kitchen sinks where you can approach them easily.
Everything starts with turning off the water, so having quality valves in place will prevent further leaking issues. To avoid a mess, you’ll need a bucket to put under the pipe. Then unscrew the big white pieces – those are compression nuts and if you see they’re broken or loose, a simple replacement might be the solution.
If compression nuts are fine, you need to replace either the washer or the P-trap (the curved pipe). Even if only the washer needs replacing, use the opportunity to rinse out the P-trap well.
Flushing it Down
Not being able to flush down the toilet won’t cost you any money, but to say it’s an uncomfortable situation would be an understatement. This can happen for two reasons – the toilet lever is broken or your toilet drain is clogged.
The first issue is very easy to fix. It takes 15 minutes to replace the lever – you just unscrew the broken one and put the new one in place. In the end, open the tank and see if you need to adjust the chain so the lever won’t get stuck.
Sometimes clogged toilet drains do need a plumber, but there are two things you can try before taking that step. The first is to try your luck with the toilet plunger (not the sink one). There needs to be enough water in the bowl that will allow you to submerge the plunger’s head, so add some if necessary. Then up to ten downward thrusts should do the job.
If this is not working, you can still try with the toilet auger. These cost a bit more, but they can take on tougher clogs. The trick is to get a good grip, so you need to run the auger into the toilet until its end reaches the clog. After that, it all comes down to turning the crank.
Between the Hidden Blades
Bad odors are not reserved for clogged toilets – they can be equally nasty in jammed garbage disposals. Although these machines are full of hidden blades enhanced by loud noises that can awake some primal fears, clearing up the clog is actually not dangerous at all. All you need to do is to cut the power and disable the unit.
The next step is to adjust the flywheel and for that, you need an Allen wrench. Reach inside the bottom of the unit and place it in the hole in the center. Start rotating and that will loosen the food that’s been jamming it.
Now it’s time to approach the unit from the top with pillars. Reach inside and remove any food that may have left near the top. That should do it. Turn on the disposal again to make sure.
Letting the Air in
We’ve all been in those situations – we don’t open the window for a while and then realize we can’t. Depending on the amount of crap and dirt accumulated, you need to apply elbow grease or some stronger lubricating agent.
Then you need to pry off the window sash from the frame. You can use a simple pizza cutter but if you want to preserve the paint, we would recommend a blunter putty knife. Once the edges are wiggled open, all that’s left is to clean the frame thoroughly.
From Nails to Fists
There’s no wall without some holes – from those made by nails and screws to those where a fist or a doorknob left their mark. Luckily, you can fix all these yourself.
To prepare the drywall for patching up smaller holes, you need to wipe it down and clean any debris in the area. Then press some spackle into the hole using a putty knife. After it dries, it’s time to make it nice and smooth by sanding it down. Depending on the color of your walls, a new coat of paint might be necessary.
The process of patching bigger holes is practically the same, but the beginning is trickier. You need to cut a section around the whole in a rectangular shape. Then cut a piece of the same shape and size from drywall scraps (if you don’t have any you’ll have to purchase a whole piece from the hardware store).
To brace the piece in the hole, you can place a small piece of wood before it and drill three screws into it – one above the hole, one below, and one into the patch. The rest of the process is the same.
There is a variety of home repairs you can DIY; we’ve covered just the most common ones here as an example that some will and essential tools can go a long way. So, if you come across an issue outside our list, check if there’s an online DIY tutorial you can follow before dialing the professional services.