5 DIY Home Repairs You Need to Know

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Homeownership comes with its own set of responsibilities. While it may seem like a dream come true, it also requires regular maintenance and upkeep to keep your home safe and running smoothly. Even if you’re not an expert in DIY, there are a few basic home repairs that you should learn to do yourself.

Nothing can ruin your day faster than a clogged toilet or a leaky faucet. But no need to panic, with a little bit of know-how, you can fix these issues and more without any complicated instructions or dangerous tools.

So, roll up your sleeves and learn to master these five DIY home repairs. While it may not be your favorite hobby, knowing how to perform these basic fixes will save you money and give you the freedom to do the work on your own schedule.

5: Prepping Your Paint Jobs Like a Pro

Painting is one of the best ways to give your home a fresh look. Whether you want to paint a whole room or just cover a nail hole, it’s important to keep a few things in mind before you start. A good paint job can increase the value of your home and add style and flair to your space. On the other hand, a poor paint job with roller marks, spatters, and sloppy trim paint can be just as bad as leaving cracked and peeling paint on the walls.

The key to a great paint job is preparation. Good preparation takes time, but it makes the actual painting easier. Start by removing any fixtures or hardware that might get in the way of your project. Loosen up fixtures and remove curtain rods, switch-plates and door hinges. While it may take some extra time, it will save you time later on, and the end result will look more professional.

To prepare your walls for painting, start by cleaning them with a damp sponge or dry cloth to remove any grease, dust, or grime buildup. Look for nail holes, gouges, and other imperfections that need to be filled with spackle, and rough spots that could benefit from sanding. These minor repairs can make a big difference in the final paint job. After cleaning and fixing the walls, apply primer to any sanded areas. Consider using a paint that has primer incorporated into it if you’ve sanded large areas. Once you’ve completed these steps, you can mask any molding, built-ins, and baseboards with painter’s tape and lay down drop cloths before painting your room.

If you have leftover paint that’s still in good condition, don’t throw it away. You can donate or recycle it through organizations in your area that will find creative uses for it.

Doors in your home require occasional maintenance and repair. Wooden interior doors can swell in humid weather if there isn’t enough room to accommodate expansion between the door and the frame. Check for loose hinge screws or deteriorated hinges that could be causing the problem. Tighten loose screws by balancing the weight with a door wedge on the latch end of the door. If the screws are okay but the door meets resistance when it closes, it may need to be planed. To plane the door, draw a line along the door where it’s hitting the jamb or lintel, and use a carpenter’s plane to scrape a small layer of wood off the door’s edge. If the tight spot is on the hinge end or bottom of the door, tap out the hinge pins with a hammer and screwdriver and set the door on its side to plane it. Planing the hinge end may require resetting the hinges, so make it a last resort option.

Doors that stick or bind can cause squeaks due to the extra pressure on the hinges. Hinges can also become noisy from oxidizing. Applying lubricant to the hinges can help silence the noise. First, cover the area under the door with a cloth and apply a few drops of penetrating oil to the hinges. Open and close the door to work the lubricant into the hinge. If the squeak persists, apply a few more drops and repeat the process. If oiling the hinges does not solve the problem, try cleaning the hinge pins using steel wool and a wire brush. Next, let’s move on to applying caulk.

Caulk is a rubbery sealant used between the wall and a sink, shower or tub to protect against moisture. To prepare for installing new caulk, the old residue must be completely removed. Products are available on the market to soften old caulk for easy removal. After cleaning the area with paint thinner and letting it dry, use a caulking gun or tube of caulk to apply the new sealant. For those who lack confidence in their ability to apply caulk, caulk strips are available for a foolproof solution. Homeowners should budget one percent of their home’s value for annual maintenance and repairs.

2: Fixing a Leaky Faucet by Replacing the Washer

Leaky faucets not only cause annoyance, but they can also result in damage. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average household wastes approximately 11,000 gallons of water per year due to leaks and drips. This amounts to a significant amount of wasted cash that could be put to better use. Therefore, fixing a leaky faucet is an essential household repair that should not be ignored.

To stop the leak without calling an expert, you can follow a simple process depending on the faucet type. Firstly, turn off the water supply to the faucet. You can locate the shut-off valve nearby, or if it’s not available, temporarily shut off the water supply to the entire house. Compression-type faucets are prevalent, and thus we will focus on replacing washers for this faucet style. If you don’t know the faucet type, you can try to identify the manufacturer by checking for a name on the handle or the main faucet housing. Most manufacturers have websites where you can find information about replacement parts and comparable models.

You can replace a compression-type faucet washer by following these steps:

  • Remove the faucet handle by unscrewing it. The screw may be hidden under a decorative metal or plastic cap, or at the back of the handle.
  • Use pliers to remove the packing nut, which may be resistant.
  • Unscrew the valve stem and remove it from the housing.
  • Remove the screw holding the washer in place. If the washer has been in place for a long time, you may need penetrating oil to loosen the screw.
  • Examine the washer and use it as a template to find a replacement if it hasn’t deteriorated too much. If it has fallen apart, you may need to check the valve-body to determine the size of the washer you need. Check the valve seat at the bottom of the valve body to determine whether the washer fits into a space with straight or angled walls.
  • Find a replacement washer at your home improvement retailer or plumbing supplier. You may also purchase a generic washer kit with various washers in different sizes and shapes.
  • Install the new washer by reversing the steps taken to remove the old one.

Although deteriorated washers cause most faucet leaks, in some cases, the washer may not entirely eliminate the leak because another part of the faucet may be worn. However, replacing the washer is the best place to start diagnosing the problem in most instances.

1: How to Fix a Toilet Blockage

Dealing with a clogged toilet is an unpleasant experience that most homeowners will face at some point. The urgency of the problem can make it stressful, but it’s important to stay calm and take action. The first step is to investigate the cause of the blockage. If you have children, it’s possible that a toy or other foreign object has accidentally been flushed down the toilet. In this case, you may be able to remove the object using gloves or by pouring a bucket of water into the bowl to dislodge it.

If these methods don’t work, a plunger is your next best option. Choose a flanged plunger for the best results, and ensure the suction cup is fully submerged in water before starting. If a plunger doesn’t work, a plumbing snake can be used to dislodge the blockage. These are relatively inexpensive and available at most home improvement stores.

If you’re still having trouble, compressed air or carbon dioxide cartridge delivery tools can provide stronger pressure than a plunger. However, they are more expensive and should only be used as a last resort before calling a professional plumber.

If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, you can also uninstall the toilet and access the blockage that way. This involves removing the tank from the bowl, unscrewing the bolts holding the bowl to the floor, and carefully lifting the toilet onto a plastic tarp. Make sure to cushion the area underneath to avoid cracking the toilet, and replace the wax collar before reinstalling. It’s important to have a helper, as toilets are heavy.

Additional Information

Related Articles

  • Must-Have DIY Tools
  • Safety Tips for Electrical Wiring
  • Preventing Energy Leaks: DIY Home Repairs
  • Safe Use of Tools

Sources

  • Better Homes and Gardens’ “Big Book of Home How-To” by Meredith Books (2003)
  • Bobvila.com’s “11 Quick & Easy DIY Home Repairs” (11/17/08, accessed 8/12/09)
  • Consumer Reports’ “What to Do With Leftover Paint” (8/07, accessed 8/14/09)
  • Walter Curtis’s “How to Paint a Room” on How Stuff Works.com (accessed 8/16/09)
  • DIY Network’s “Simple Home Repairs” (accessed 8/11/09)
  • Do It Yourself’s “Emergency Bathroom Repair” (accessed 8/10/09)
  • Do It Yourself’s “How to Maintain a Home” (accessed 8/10/09)
  • Do It Yourself.com’s “Repair a Leaky Faucet” (accessed 8/15/09)
  • Dummies.com’s “Caulking Your Tub or Shower” (accessed 8/16/09)
  • EPA’s “Water Sense – Fix a Leak” (3/16/09, accessed 8/14/09)
  • Fix it Club’s “How to Repair a Faucet” (accessed 8/14/09)
  • HGTV.com’s “30 Tips for Increasing Your Home’s Value” (accessed 8/15/09)
  • This Old House’s “Top 10 Repair Questions” by Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk (accessed 8/11/09)
  • The Money Pit’s “Top 10 Home Improvement Topics” by Tom Kraeutler (accessed 8/12/09)
  • The Today Show’s “Five Home Repairs You Can Make Yourself” by Lou Manfredini (4/28/08, accessed 8/10/09)
  • The Home Depot’s “Home Improvement 1-2-3” by Meredith Books (2003)
  • “Home Buying for Dummies” by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown of Hungry Minds, Inc. (2001)

FAQ

1. What are the 5 home repairs I should know how to do myself?

The 5 home repairs you should know how to do yourself are: fixing a leaky faucet, replacing a toilet, patching drywall, unclogging a drain, and changing a light fixture.

2. Why should I learn how to do these repairs myself?

Learning these repairs can save you money by avoiding the cost of hiring a professional. It can also give you a sense of accomplishment and independence in being able to handle basic home repairs.

3. What tools do I need to do these repairs?

The tools you will need depend on the repair, but some basic tools include: a wrench, pliers, screwdrivers, a putty knife, a drill, a level, and a saw.

4. How do I fix a leaky faucet?

To fix a leaky faucet, first turn off the water supply. Then, remove the handle and cartridge and replace any worn out parts. Reassemble the faucet and turn the water back on to test for leaks.

5. How do I replace a toilet?

To replace a toilet, first turn off the water supply and remove the old toilet. Install a new wax ring and place the new toilet in position. Secure the toilet to the floor with bolts and attach the water supply line. Test the toilet for leaks.

6. How do I patch drywall?

To patch drywall, first clean the area and apply joint compound to the damaged area. Smooth it out and let it dry. Sand the area and apply a second coat if needed. Sand again and then paint over the area.

7. How do I unclog a drain?

To unclog a drain, start by pouring boiling water down the drain. If that doesn’t work, use a plunger to try to dislodge the clog. If that still doesn’t work, use a drain snake to remove the clog.

8. How do I change a light fixture?

To change a light fixture, first turn off the power supply. Remove the old fixture and disconnect the wires. Connect the wires of the new fixture and attach it to the ceiling or wall. Turn the power back on and test the new fixture.

9. What are some safety precautions I should take when doing these repairs?

Some safety precautions to take include wearing protective gear, such as gloves and goggles, turning off the power supply before working on electrical repairs, and using caution when using tools.

10. What should I do if I am unsure about how to do a repair?

If you are unsure about how to do a repair, it is best to seek advice from a professional or watch instructional videos online. It is important to not attempt a repair if you are not confident in your abilities.

11. How often should I check for these repairs?

You should check for these repairs periodically, such as once a year. It is important to catch any issues early to avoid bigger problems down the line.

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