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Essential DIY Maintenance Jobs

Home Fix-Ups Beyond the Honey-Do List

© 2016 by Kelly Smith; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

A properly flushing toilet; photo courtesy Kelly Smith

As any homeowner can tell you, there is never much of a slack-off when it comes to home maintenance and repairs. These tasks generally fall into one of three categories:

  1. Repairs that are well within the reach of the average Joe with a well-stocked toolbox.
  2. Recurring annual and simi-annual maintenance tasks.
  3. Repair jobs of a larger scope that require specialized tools, knowledge, or licensing required by the building code. For these jobs you’ll need a pro like those found on Angie’s List - Where thousands of consumers share their ratings on the local contractors and service companies they hire. Learn more.
For the purpose of this article, let’s take a look at some of the jobs you can tackle.

  • Unstop a Clogged-Up Toilet.

    It’s not the most enviable of jobs but it happens. If you have small children you can count on it; there’s just something magical and inviting about that disappearing water. This job is like solving a calculus equation; there is more than one way to solve it so start with the easiest.

    First try using a plunger. The trick with the up and down motion is to keep good suction and pump at a steady rhythm to dislodge the offending matter. Try flushing but be ready to valve off the water if the commode threatens to overflow.

    If the plunger method fails you, the next step is to use a toilet auger. If you don’t own one you probably should. You will have to shell out a few dollars but it is more frugal than calling a plumber.

  • Clean Out the Rain Gutter.

    Gutters perform a great service when they flow properly, but the fact of the matter is that the do clog up with debris. In most areas leaves are the biggest culprits. Keeping them clear will go a long way towards preventing pests and ice dams.

    This is an easy job although it can get messy. Start by removing leaves by hand and use a leaf blower, garden hose, or wet-dry vac where appropriate to the situation. To finish up the job, don’t forget to blast out the down spout until the water flow is unimpeded.

  • Repair a Dripping Faucet.

    It may not seem like much but a single leaking faucet can cost you big bucks over the long haul. There are many types of faucets and you will need to disassemble it to determine which one you have and what replacement parts you will need.

  • Change Those Air Filters!

    Although filters are inexpensive, easy to change, save money on utility bills, and lengthen appliance life, many homeowners neglect to keep up with this simple chore. Accessing the filter for a central HVAC system is easy by opening the return air grill. Furnace filters are found behind the service panel. Change filters according to your manufacture’s recommendation.

  • Maintaining Hardwood Floors.

    The days of wall-to-wall carpeting seem to be over for the most part—at least for now. They are being replaced by hardwood floors and laminate floors. Like any other part of your home, periodic maintenance is important.

    The main thing to avoid is getting out the mop and sloshing gallons of water on these floors. Instead, use either a moist mop or/and special cleaning products made for your type of floor. These are readily available. Between mopping sessions use your vacuum.

  • Replace that Worn-Out Thermostat.

    Thermostats can last many, many years but at some point they call out for replacement. Or in another scenario, you might just want to upgrade to a programmable thermostat to rein in those utility bills. It’s easy to change out your thermostat; first flip the breaker on your heating and cooling system. Next you will need to remove your old thermostat.

    You need to do this before shopping for a new thermostat because it will have either two or four wires and each type is not compatible with the other.

  • Unclogging a Sink.

    Like toilets, sinks are doomed to clog at some point. In the kitchen, it’s likely due to grease and food left-overs. In the bathroom, soap scum infused hair is the usual cause. It is advisable to avoid chemical cleaners; a few of these are Draino, Liquid-Plumr, and Roebic Heavy Duty Crystal Drain Cleaner.

    As with toilets you can begin with a plunger but in this case use a half cup plunger. Don’t try a plunger on a sink that’s mounted below the countertop. No luck? Try a mini-snake that is made just for sinks.

    If that doesn’t bring you complete satisfaction, it is time to disassemble the plumbing components below the sink—the p-trap is probably just too obstructed. If you don’t want to mess with the messy job of cleaning it up, spend a few bucks and just replace it.

Do you have any tips of your own? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment area below.

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