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.