Not every home is a fixer-upper, but all houses need occasional repairs and maintenance. You’ll be able to handle those jobs if you know what the best ways to fix these repairs are. These tips will come in handy whether you’re redoing the house, upgrading a room, preparing to sell your home, or just trying to keep everything in top condition.
Clearing out the gutter: even the ladder-averse can clean the gutters twice a year to prevent pests and ice dams. Remove leaves by hand or with the assistance of a leaf blower, garden hose, or wet-dry vac. When you’re up on the ladder, be sure to use a stabilizer. If sticking to ground level is more your style, you can still get the job done if you have special attachments for your leaf blower or wet-dry vac.
Toilet triage: in the life of every homeowner, there will be some clogged toilets. But they’re simple to fix with a plunger, an auger, rubber gloves, and a bucket. If the bowl is in danger of overflowing, shut off the water supply valve behind the toilet and empty out half of the water. Try a plunger first, but if that doesn’t work, try an auger.
Unclogging a sink: if you have a clogged sink, skip the chemical drain cleaners—they probably won’t fix anything. Your problem may be a blocked P-trap. Check this U-shaped pipe under the sink by first placing a bucket underneath it and then unscrewing the pipe to see if it’s clogged.
Stopping the drips: leaky faucets can be fixed with a little elbow grease and know-how. First, turn off the water to the sink and stop the drain with a rag so you don’t lose any small parts while you’re dismantling the faucet. A compression faucet needs a new rubber washer to seal the valve, and a drippy washer-less faucet can be stopped with a new O-ring.
Caring for hardwood floors: hardwood floors are often a home’s most inviting feature. You can keep them that way with proper care. Use cleaning products designed for hardwood—other cleansers can cause damage. A little water works wonders, but too much water will damage the wood. For fabulous floors, vacuum frequently using a hardwood floor attachment to grab dust from between boards without scratching.
Replacing a showerhead: is a small project with a big impact. Remove the existing showerhead, and then lay thread seal tape at the base of the shower arm before screwing in the new piece. Don’t fasten it too tightly. Replace the shower arm if you like—they’re often sold separately.
Replacing a faucet: might sound impressive, but it’s not too hard. Choose a new fixture that has holes in the same locations as the old one to ensure that it will fit properly on the sink. Before working under the sink, take a picture so you know how to put everything back together. Shut off the water, drain the faucet, and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Installing a new thermostat: a programmable thermostat is a big step towards energy efficiency, and it’s easy to install. Turn off the breaker to your furnace and air conditioner, then remove the old thermostat, leaving the wires in place. The number of wires (two or four) will help determine which type of thermostat you should buy. Either way, you’re on the road to easier heating and cooling.
Putting in a ceiling fan: ceiling fans need a different light box than other fixtures to support their extra weight. After removing old fixtures, install the new electrical box and follow manufacturer’s instructions to connect the wires and install the fan. Always remember to cut the power before performing electrical work.
Locating wall studs: hanging a shelf or a heavy mirror? It’s best to know where your wall studs are before you start to save your time and your walls. When you knock on a wall, a spot where the stud behind it will sound solid. Alternatively, use a magnetic stud finder that beeps when it locates the nails in the boards.
Being a screen saver: they’re an important part of your home’s defense against insects, so when window screens snag, repair them. Pop the old screen from the metal frame and discard it along with the old plastic cording. Size a new screen, allowing a little extra along the perimeter. Insert it into the frame with new cording and trim the excess.
Scouring grout clean: did you know that grout’s natural colour is not mildew-gray? To successfully get at grout, spray warm water and scrub with a hard-bristled brush. For deep stains, cover with baking soda and water to make a paste, and spray with a mixture of vinegar and water for a cleansing foam. When the foaming stops, scrub and rinse the tiles.
Cleaning stainless steel: to care for stainless steel the right way, beware of bleach and abrasives. Wipe in the direction of the grain with a soft, soapy cloth. Remove stuck-on food with a nylon scrubber for a truly stainless look.
Replacing outlets: if your outlets need an update, cut the power and use a voltage tester to confirm that there’s no electricity running through them. Remove the faceplate, unscrew the outlet, and take not of which wires connected to which outlet. Hook up the new outlet, screw it into place and turn the electricity back on to test it.
Sealing the driveway: sealing your driveway can extend its life and improve your home’s curb appeal. Make sure the weather forecast is dry, and then start by repairing cracks and washing off the driveway, allowing it to dry overnight. Apply the driveway sealant in small patches. Keep off the driveway for 24 hours to let your work set.
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