10 home repairs everyone can and should do

RetailMeNot.comJanuary 4, 2013 

Sometimes it can be too easy to just call the repairman and get out your checkbook. Leaky faucet? Call! Tub tile cracked? Call!

Here are 10 repairs that every homeowner should know how to do – for a fraction of the cost of calling a pro.

“Some projects might seem a little dirty, but a bar of soap is a lot less expensive than an hour of a handyman’s time,” says Daniel Vannoni, founder of the website ProperSee, which connects consumers with home repair information.

1 Fix a leaky faucet.

Why: Dripping plumbing wastes water, leads to stains and causes an annoying sound.

Tools: Faucet repair kit, which should include any needed hardware, plus a wrench set and Philips screwdriver.

Time: 20 minutes.

More help: Lowe’s shows you “How to Fix a Leaky Faucet With a Single-Handle Design”at and “How to Fix a Leaky Faucet With a Two Handle Design”at http://tinyurl.com/bwofqj4 Tip: Close the drain and drape a towel at the bottom of the sink or tub to prevent hardware from going down the drain.

2 Fix a running toilet.

Why: It wastes water and has an annoying sound. This usually indicates that the flapper and sealing flange need cleaning or replacement.

Tools: A flapper replacement kit from the hardware store.

Time: Five to 15 minutes/

More help: Check out Howcast’s video “How to Fix a Running Toilet” at http://tinyurl.com/bruqf9d

Tip: Flapper kits are inexpensive. Keep one on hand.

3 Change a light fixture.

Why: That wicker ceiling fan got you down? Want more wattage? Swapping out a light fixture can turn around a room.

Tools: Wire tester, screwdriver, pliers, electrical tape and ladder.

Time: 30 minutes, depending.

More help: Buildipedia’s YouTube video “How to Replace a Light Fixture” gives some safety and DIY tips at http://tinyurl.com/brqblq9

Tip: “Just make sure the circuit is off.”

4 Change a showerhead.

Why: “Showerheads can clog with mineral deposits and sediments over time, and newer models have low-flow designs saving on your water consumption without sacrificing the strength of spray,” Vannoni says.

Tools: Crescent wrench or slip-joint pliers and Teflon tape.

Time: Five to 15 minutes

More help: Home repair expert Barbara K of AOL’s home improvement channel provides guidance in a video titled “How To Change a Showerhead,” at http://tinyurl.com/73whhgu.

Tip: “Be gentle so you don’t break the shower pipe.”

5 Stem a washing machine water supply hose leak.

Why: The hose and washers need replacing.

Tools: Adjustable locking pliers.

Time: 20 to 30 minutes

More help: Let home repair guru Ron Hazelton show you “How to Replace Washing Machine Hoses” at http://tinyurl.com/bqwnmyg

Tips: Rick Johnson, a Groton, Mass. remodeling company owner, offers three tips: Replace old lines with a set of stainless steel braided lines, which are much more durable. Replace both hot and cold lines at the same time. And always disconnect the machine from the power supply before working. If there’s extensive leaking, turn the power off at the circuit panel.

6 Fix cracked ceramic tiles.

Why: Safely remove the broken tile to replace with a new one.

Tools: Safety glasses, hammer, chisel, grout saw, adhesive, new tile and grout.

Time: One hour.

More help: TV home repair expert Eric Stromer gives step-by-step instructions to “Replace a Broken Tile” at http://tinyurl.com/c8cbstv

Tip: “Remove the broken tile by gently working from the crack outward,” says Johnson. “Do not use good tile edges as leverage to pry the broken one out.”

7 Keep the dishwasher door gasket/seal from leaking.

Why: The rubber seal is worn down and needs replacing.

Tools: A new gasket (take the old one to your hardware store along with the dishwasher model number.)

Time: 10 to 15 minutes.

More help: PartSelect.com gives a quick “Door Gasket Replacement” demo at http://tinyurl.com/ctj3ed9

Tip: Before replacing, first wipe down the gasket to make sure that food and mineral gook are not preventing a proper seal. Note that the seal may be located on the door or inside the machine. Soak new seal in warm water before replacing.

8 Regrout your tub.

Why: It’s important to remove old grout that’s cracked or moldy to prevent deep-water damage in the wall and floor.

Tools: Screwdriver for scraping as well as grout and a sponge.

Time: 30 to 60 minutes, plus drying time.

More help: Los Angeles contractor Chris Wade demonstrates “How to Regrout a Bathtub” at http://tinyurl.com/cn5c5qg

Tip: Get in there and use your finger to apply the grout.

9 Replace the furnace filter.

Why: It keeps your air clean, prolongs the life of the appliance and reduces energy costs.

Tools: Just a new filter.

Time: Two seconds (once you identify the filter location).

More help: It really is simple; just check out this “How to Change a Furnace Filter for Dummies” video at http://tinyurl.com/cfstkk7

Tip: If the filter is any color but white, it’s time to replace it. Plan to switch it out every 30 days during cold months. Make sure the arrows are pointed in the right direction – toward the blower motor or furnace.

10 Repair small wall holes and dents.

Why: Smooth out your wall to prep for a clean paint job.

Tools: Mesh, spackle, putty knife and sandpaper

Time: 10-plus minutes.

More help: AOL’s Barbara K shows you “How to Patch or Repair a Hole in a Wall”at http://tinyurl.com/cw797am

Tip: “Always prime these areas,” says Joe Kowalski, a training manager and paint expert for Glidden paint.

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