Here’s how to save money:
Learn how to do common household repairs. It’s that easy. By fixing things yourself, you can save tons of money on handyman service calls. Not to mention adding value to your home.
Whether you are looking to sell your home, or just want to touch up some areas, this household repair list will provide you with the knowledge to tackle those problems yourself.
Most of the supplies you’ll need are easy-to-find products at your local hardware store. Grab your safety gloves, and start fixing your home!
1. Remove Sticky Residue
Do you have sticker leftovers stubbornly clinging to a surface? Don’t worry!
If the residue is on a car windshield, you can get a cheap glass scraper for a couple bucks. The sharp razor blade will make short work of any sticker.
For metal surfaces or window glass, use acetone. It’s sold in a quart container, or as the main ingredient in some nail polish remover brands.
For more delicate surfaces like wood or drywall, don’t use any chemicals or a scraper. Instead, use a bowl of warm (not hot) soapy water, and scrub away. It may take a bit of elbow grease, but this will ensure that you don’t damage the surface.
2. Seal Drafty Doors
A common home issue is drafty door seals. They can be costly over time, raising your electric bill and making the area around the entrance unpleasant. Luckily the fix is simple.
The draft is generally caused by an old worn-out seal. Get some new weather stripping or closed-cell foam tape, remove the old stripping, and replace it with the new material. Make sure it covers the seam from the top of the frame to the bottom. There should be no gap in between the seal and the door.
You can also get various types of seals for the bottom of the door. These can be stick-on, nail-on, or even a foam sleeve that slides underneath the door.
3. Silence Squeaky Doors
This fix is not complicated, but it will bring you great satisfaction. To quiet those creaking doors in your home, grab some silicone lubricant, spray it into the hinge. Wipe away the excess with a paper towel or rag.
That should take care of the issue, but if it didn’t, try popping the hinge pin out about halfway and working it back and forth with some lubricant on it.
Just like that, your doors are as quiet as can be!
4. Replacing a Door Knob
There are many reasons for replacing a door knob. The most common reasons are:
- Installing a lock into a door that doesn’t currently lock
- Swapping a door knob for a more stylish one
- Replacing a broken lock
- Getting new keys after buying a house
If you simply want to get new keys for your locks, first check to see if they are able to be re-keyed. Some brands of door locks allow you to rekey them without a locksmith.
Otherwise, the process is straightforward. You can check out this video for a demonstration.
5. Loosening Stuck Windows
In the best cases, all you need to do is just lubricate the edges of the frame and the channels for the window to start moving again.
If not, wrap a block of wood in a cloth, place it against the frame, and gently tap with a hammer. Alternate between the bottom edges, being careful not to break the glass. Once the window reaches the top of the frame, it should be able to slide again. Add a bit of lubricant along the channel and work it in.
Just like that, your window is moving again!
6. Replace Broken Window Screens
Replacing broken window screens is a common household repair you should know. Here’s an excellent tutorial on how to get those screens looking good as new!
7. Patch a Drywall Hole
For small holes:
Fill the hole with spackle/joint compound, and scrape away the excess with a putty knife so that it’s level with the wall. After 24 hours, it will be dry. Then you can sand and paint over it.
For medium holes:
Get a piece of self-adhesive mesh large enough to cover the hole. Then, using a putty knife and lightweight joint compound, cover the mesh. Make sure the compound is blended into the wall as well as possible near the edges. Increasing the pressure and angle of your strokes with the putty knife will help achieve this. Once it’s dry, you can sand and paint over it.
For large holes:
Fixing a large hole in drywall is a bit more involved, here’s a video to help walk you through the process!
8. Fix Torn Drywall
Torn drywall looks terrible, but it’s simple to patch!
Using a utility knife, score the torn section so that it can be removed without pulling any more drywall off as well.
After that, simply fill in the ripped section with lightweight joint compound. Once it’s dry, you can sand and paint over it.
9. Smooth Out “Nail Pops”
Drive a drywall screw in about 1.5 inches above the nail pop. This will reattach the drywall to the stud. Then, drive in the popped nail.
All you have to do now is cover the two small holes with spackle. Once it’s dry, you can sand and paint over it.
10. Removing a Popcorn Ceiling
Popcorn ceilings are one of the big home issues that can decrease the value of your home. They don’t look good, and if you’re trying to sell your home, it could decrease your chances of selling.
Note: Before attempting to remove a popcorn ceiling, have it tested for asbestos first. It’s harmless if it remains in the ceiling, but removing the coating will fill cause the fibers to stir, potentially ending up in your lungs.
You need to see if the popcorn coating has been painted over before you begin. Mix a few drops of dish soap with water in a handheld sprayer and spray a small section. If the water does not soak in, it means the ceiling is painted, and you will need to use a chemical stripper to remove the layer of paint.
Otherwise, cover the floor, walls, and outlets with plastic sheeting. You will need to remove all furniture as well.
For the removal, be sure to wear a respirator and safety glasses. Fill a pump sprayer with warm water and add a few tablespoons of dish soap. Moisten a four foot square on the ceiling. It should be damp enough to loosen the popcorn coating, but not so wet that it seeps into the drywall.
Wait about 15 minutes for the solution to be absorbed. Using a wide-bladed tool like a floor scraper, gently remove the popcorn texture. You can use a smaller blade, such as a putty knife, to get into the smaller spaces and corners. Be careful not to damage the ceiling as you do this.
After the texture is completely removed, you will need to do some touch-ups to the ceiling.
- Drive in exposed nails or screws, then cover them with joint compound.
- Replace damaged drywall tape, then smooth the seams with joint compound.
- Lightly sand the ceiling with pole-mounted sandpaper. Be careful not to sand too aggressively, as this will damage the ceiling.
Once that is all done, the only thing left is to paint the ceiling and admire your work!
11. Painting a Room
Before you even paint a room, you need to determine what type of paint is right for the job. Keep in mind that while cheaper paints will cost less upfront, they typically don’t last as long, which may require you to repaint the room again in just a few years.
After you’ve selected a color, you need to pick a finish:
- Flat and Eggshell are both good choices for areas like the living room, dining room, or foyer. They have minimal sheen.
- Satin and Semi-Gloss are good choices for high-traffic or mess-prone rooms, like the bathroom or kitchen. The smoother finish will allow the walls to be cleaner easier, and hold up to stains better.
Paint comes as an oil-base (acrylic) or a water-base (latex). Water-based paint is easier to clean up, as you can just use warm, soapy water. Oil-based paints require you to use mineral spirits to clean up, which can be a pain. A water-based paint cannot go on top of an oil-based paint though, so if you prime the surface, ensure that both the primer and the paint use the same base.
Unless you have water damage or other large stains on your walls, it’s generally not necessary to prime the surface beforehand. Newer paints usually come as a mix of paint and primer, so you don’t need to do seperate coats. Check the paint before you buy to see if it is a paint and primer in one.
Now that you have the paint, here’s what you need:
- A paint roller
- A paint tray
- Some wall brushes
- A respirator
- A ladder
- Plastic sheeting
- Painter’s tape
- Old clothes
Once you have that all together, all you need to do is paint! Cover the floor with plastic sheeting, and either remove the furniture from the room, or move it to the center of the room.
If you’re using primer, apply a coat of that first. Depending on the quality of the paint you buy, you may need anywhere from 1-3 coats of paint. All that’s left is to let the paint dry, and you have a nice-looking updated room!
12. Repairing a Running Toilet
The easiest fix to a running toilet is replacing a worn-out flapper (the rubber seal that lets water into the tank). Press down on the flapper while the water is running to see if that stops it. If it does, buy a new flapper and install it according to the instructions on the box.
The other issue could be the float or fill valve. If the float is too high, it won’t stop the water. Check to see if these parts are worn-out. If they are, no worries. Simply buy new parts and replace them.
13. Sealing a Leaky PVC/CPVC Pipe
Leaky pipes are bad news. They can cause thousands of dollars in water damage if left untouched. This is one of the things to look for when buying a home, as water damage is very difficult to clean up, and causes problems that last for years.
Patching a leaking pipe is relatively simple. If it’s a very small leak, winding some flexible repair tape tightly around the affected area should do the trick. Check on it occasionally to ensure that this has stopped the leak.
Otherwise, the best thing to do is to replace that section of pipe. Depending on the location and length of the pipe, you may want to replace the entire length.
Things you will need:
- A way of cutting the pipe (hacksaw, pipe cutters, etc.)
- PVC/CPVC couplings/joints
- PVC/CPVC glue (Check the label to see what type it is used on. PVC is white and goes up to a 4 inch diameter, CPVC is yellow and generally goes up to a ¾ inch diameter in homes.)
- Teflon thread tape (if replacing a threaded section)
Make sure you turn of the water supply to the pipe, then you can cut out the leaky bit of pipe. Cut about 1 inch past the leak on either side. Dry the pipe and drain the remaining water before attempting to glue new parts.
Dry-fit the parts before to ensure everything is in order before you commit. Once you do that, you can apply the glue and make everything permanent.
Just like that, you’ve replaced a faulty section of pipe yourself! Go you!
14. Repairing a Leaky Faucet
For a leaky faucet, the repair is different depending on where the water leaks.
If it leaks underneath the counter, check your supply lines to ensure they are still in working order, they may need to be replaced.
If it leaks around the handles, you will need to replace the seats and springs, which you can buy for just a few dollars. It’s a simple process, all you have to do is unscrew the small set screw (usually located near the base of the handle), pull out the stems with a pair of pliers, and replace the old seats and springs with the new ones!
Otherwise, if that still doesn’t fix your link, you will need to replace the entire faucet stem, which can be between $10-25 depending on the make of your faucet.
15. Replacing a Shower Head
Replacing your shower head is an easy home fix that can save you money, or provide a more relaxing shower experience.
To swap your current shower head for a new one, simply remove the current head with an adjustable wrench. Be careful not to apply too much pressure when you remove it, just enough to get the old shower head off.
Wipe off any dirt or grime from the pipe with a rag, then use some Teflon tape and wrap a layer of tape about three times around the threads. This will ensure a snug fit and seal the gap between the threads.
All you have to do now is screw the new fixture on and you’re set!
16. Recaulking the Bathroom
Re-caulking is actually a really simple process, so don’t worry!
All you need is:
- Painter’s tape
- Kitchen & Bath caulking
- A caulk-remover tool.
Strip the old caulking out, then run a line of painter’s tape parallel above and below the seam. Make sure that you leave about the same size gap for the entire length of the tape.
All you have to do now is run a thick line of caulk down the seam and smooth it out with your finger! Let the caulk dry, pull away the tape, and ta-da! A nice clean line of caulk, just like the pros.
17. Replacing a Doorbell
A broken doorbell is one of three faulty components:
- The push button itself (Easy)
- The transformer or doorbell unit (More difficult)
Unscrew the push button from the front door. You can check if the button was the issue by touching the wires together. If the doorbell sounds then you simply need to replace the push button and you’ll be back in business!
Otherwise, for the doorbell unit and transformer, check out this detailed guide.
18. Replacing an Electrical Outlet
You may want to replace an electrical outlet with one that has USB ports to charge a phone, or it may just be not working any more.
To replace an electrical outlet, first ensure that power to that outlet is cut off in the fuse box. Do not do anything until you know the power is off.
Remove the cover plate with a screwdriver, then pull the outlet out of the electrical box. Take note of where the wires are connected to the receptacle. A good idea would be to take a picture of the layout, or sketch it on a piece of paper.
Simply remove the terminal connections on the outlet, then repeat the process in reverse to rewire and replace the new outlet. Again, be careful to rewire the new receptacle exactly like the old one.
19. Installing a New Thermostat
Installing a new thermostat can be a good way to save some money or add value to your home. Newer “smart” thermostats allow you to control the temperature from your phone, and they can also adjust the temperature dynamically to maximize your energy savings!
The process is much easier to visualize, so here is a guide you can follow to replace your old thermostat.
20. Filling Driveway Cracks
Repairing a driveway crack is straightforward:
- Clear the crack of debris with a screwdriver and wire brush.
- Fill the crack with a concrete repair material. You can get this in a small tube (like caulk) for minor cracks, or in a 40/50 pound bag for bigger cracks.
- Allow the patch to dry, and you’re all set!
21. Fixing a Sagging Gate
Sagging gates make it hard to open the gate, and give the impression of a run-down house.
Take care of it easy with these steps:
- Purchase an anti-sag kit from your local hardware store.
- Attach the corner brackets to the top hinge-side and the bottom latch-side with the included screws. The brackets should be diagonally across from each other.
- Unscrew the turnbuckle to loosen it, and attach it to the top bracket.
- Using the included cable clamps, attach the steel cable to the bottom bracket first, then the turnbuckle.
- Simply tighten the turnbuckle to remove the sag from the gate.
Just like that, the gate is as good as new now!
This household repairs list should be a great way to increase your knowledge, and help you save money when you need to fix your home!
For bigger jobs, like 24-hour emergency damage cleanup, flooring installation, carpet cleaning, and more, you can turn to the experts at Restor-It! Give them a call at 678-355-6645.