DIY projects

Before you call that plumber ...

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 nine repairs that every home owner 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. 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 this video titled “How-To Change a Showerhead,” on YouTube:

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

2. Fix a running toilet

Why: It wastes water and has an annoying sound. This usually indicates that the flapper and sealing flange need a 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” on identifying and fixing your porcelain throne’s issues:

Tip: Wash your hands afterward.

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:

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

4. 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 shows you “How to Replace Washing Machine Hoses”:—to—remove—and—replace—washing—machine—water—supply—hoses

Tips: Rick Johnson, owner of the Groton, Massachusetts, remodeling company Sky’s the Limit, 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.

5. Fix cracked ceramic tiles

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

Time: One hour

More help: Home repair hunk Eric Stromer gives step-by-step instructions to “Replace a Broken Tile” on YouTube:

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

6. Keep the dishwasher door gasket/seal from leaking

Why: The rubber seal is worn down.

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: gives a quick “Door Gasket Replacement” demo:

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.

7 . 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”: and “How to Fix a Leaky Faucet With a Two Handle Design.”:—2q4AHA&featurerelmfu

Tip: Close the drain and drape a towel at the bottom of the sink or tub to prevent hardware from going down the drain.

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”: on a flamingo-pink tub.

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

9. 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”:

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

Read more Home & Garden stories from the Miami Herald

Trays are a great and stylish way to keep your home organized and beautiful.


    Style at Home: 5 terrific ways to use trays

    If you went on a scavenger hunt for a tray in my home, you’d find one in every room. In the 33 years I’ve worked in interior design, some of the decorating foot soldiers I use to style my home have come and gone (anyone remember tassels?). But trays are here to stay.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">BUTTERED UP: </span>The glass dome on this Victorian butter dish is known as ‘Rubina.’


    Unusual Victorian butter dish still valuable

    Q: This butter dish was given to my grandmother over 50 years ago. It is 5 inches in diameter. The markings on the bottom part of the metal are “Rogers Smith & Co.” with “Meriden Ct, Quadruple, 7, USA.” Are you able to give us any information on this piece?

  • Washington Report

    Is spring the time to list your home?

    It’s common knowledge verging on holy writ in real estate: Spring is the absolute best time of the year to sell a house.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category