It’s safe to say that homeownership is roughly 50 percent fun and 50 percent frustration — fun because you can rock whatever trendy paint colors you’re dying to try without the oversight of a landlord (not to mention all of the financial benefits that come with making such a major investment), and frustrating because, well, it brings with it a lot of very adult responsibilities. You and your home are in a long-term relationship, and like any significant other, it requires ongoing care and attention. You wouldn’t call a professional every single time you and bae argue (though we are very pro-counseling!), and you shouldn’t have to call in an expert every time something in your home goes haywire, either. We’ve rounded up the basic how-tos on some fixes you should be able to make yourself. Gaining confidence in these kinds of repairs will really reduce the frustrations — and increase the fun — of being a homeowner.
1. Lightbulbs: Changing a lightbulb is probably as basic as it gets when it comes to home repairs, so it’s a great way to get your feet wet if you’re only starting to learn how to make these fixes on your own. If you’re changing a dead bulb in a lamp, be sure to unplug it from the power outlet before doing anything else, and if it’s an overhead or wall light that needs changing, turn off the power first. Allow the dead bulb to cool off before you unscrew it from the base and secure the replacement. If the existing bulb is stuck, turn a two-foot-long strip of duct tape into a loop, wrap it around the base, and twist the loop counterclockwise, holding one end of duct tape in each hand.
2. Drains: We’ve all experienced the annoying tub backup that happens when a little too much hair builds in the shower drain, but other drains in your home can experience even more serious clogs. Kitchen sink drains are especially prone to problems, but with just a few basic tools, you can clear things up. If you have a garbage disposal, turn it on and listen for a low humming sound (we’ll get to the solution for that next). If the disposal doesn’t seem to be the problem, try using a plunger to clear the drain (put a clamp on the drain hose of your dishwasher first) with three to four inches of water in the sink. No luck there? Try snaking the drain under the sink.
3. Garbage Disposal: That whirring sound you hear when the disposal runs means that the disposal itself is probably jammed. If you hear it, turn off the disposal, unplug it, and try to dislodge whatever’s causing the jam by sticking an Allen wrench into the bottom of the unit.
4. Squeaky Door: Sick of feeling like you’re living in a horror movie every time you open or close the door? There are a few hacks you can try to quiet those annoying hinges, and you probably have a lot of the necessary materials at home already. First, try rubbing your hinges with a non-glycerin-based bar soap or olive oil. If that doesn’t work, tap out the hinge pin with a hammer and coat it with petroleum jelly or the melted wax from a paraffin candle.
5. Smoke Detector: If your smoke alarm is driving you crazy with incessant beeping, it’s probably time for a battery replacement! Most smoke detectors require a nine-volt battery. Remove the alarm from the ceiling and use a screwdriver to take out the old batteries and replace them. You may also be able to press a reset button to correct the problem. If the whole smoke detector (and not just the battery) is kaput, you’ll need to buy a replacement unit. Each model will have a specific set of installation instructions, but you should always start by cutting off the electric flow so you don’t get electrocuted in the process.
6. Stuck Windows: No amount of pumping iron at the gym can help you open a window if it’s really stuck, and we don’t want you to hurt yourself by relying on those perfectly toned Michelle Obama arms at moments like this. Instead, if you’re struggling with a window, look for any paint that might be sealing it shut and remove it with your finger or a razor knife. Next, put a putty knife between the window and the frame, wriggling it around the entire edge of the window. If you’re still not making progress, use a hammer cushioned with a wood block to gently tap the window frame (not the glass portion!). You should be able to move the window a bit more after these steps, but if you still need a final push, you can force it open with a pry bar.
7. Vacuum: Even the fanciest vacuum is no good to a messy house if it’s not firing on all cylinders. If yours isn’t working, there are a few things you should check before you go out and buy a new one or pay for repairs. Start by replacing the vacuum bag (if you have one) and cleaning out all filters. Then, check the hoses for clogs and clear them out, if necessary. Your manual will give you the information you need on how to replace the belt on your specific model, as well as details on any overheating features that may have caused your vacuum to shut down automatically. Fixes beyond this may require some professional input, especially because each vacuum is constructed differently.
8. Holes in the Wall: Small dents and dings in the wall are pretty easy to fix using just a bit of fast-drying spackle, which you can get at any hardware store. Clear any debris from the hole before you spackle, then let it set for about 24 hours before you sand it down flat. Larger holes (like those caused by a doorknob) may require a patch kit, which typically uses a self-adhesive mesh patch to repair the damage. These kits are also available at the hardware store, and they’re easy to use as long as you follow the instructions.
Do you have any home repair hacks we should know about? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)