DIY projects

Before you call that plumber ...

 

www.RetailMeNot.com

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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vfHBaTCKcYPU

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: http://www.howcast.com/videos/112977-How-to-Fix-a-Running-Toilet

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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vjRFKsnyidjA

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”: http://www.ronhazelton.com/tips/how—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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vWGWmuDCAkS8

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: RepairClinic.com gives a quick “Door Gasket Replacement” demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vQe-zNyP02Z8

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”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vA7e2bIfP8Us and “How to Fix a Leaky Faucet With a Two Handle Design.”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?voRls—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”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v4uyn5RmLzyc 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”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vy4yqVFb96bo

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

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