Whether it's being home or the fact that you like to tick things off your list, you're probably looking at taking care of some home maintenance on your own.
There's nothing quite like the pride you feel after you get a toilet to stop running or the satisfaction of looking at sparkly-clean grout lines and tiles.
Maybe you're a seasoned pro when it comes to quick-fixes, or maybe you're new at this; either way, here are 10 home repairs and projects every homeowner should know how to do.
Fix a Running Toilet
Repairing or replacing the toilet fill valve is usually the answer on how to stop a toilet from running. The fill valve fills the tank after each flush. You can test the toilet fill valve by lifting the float cup to see if the water stops. If it does, the cup's float height may need to be adjusted accordingly.
- Use a screwdriver to adjust the spine that runs along the side fill valve
- Turn it counterclockwise to lower the float cup and the water level so it stops below the overflow tube
Unclog a Drain
Harsh, pricey chemicals don't have to be your first option when a sink drain gets clogged. Keep a small plunger and a drain snake on hand to work out the problem mechanically! After you’ve removed the primary clog, finish the job by putting a cup of baking soda in the drain followed by four cups of boiling water; then chase with a cup of vinegar. The vigorous chemical reaction will jar any remaining debris loose and leave the drain smelling fresh.
How to Set a Thermostat
No two thermostats are alike when it comes to programming, but there are a few rules everyone should know. First, it's recommended that you set your thermostat to 68 degrees in winter and 78 in summer for optimal energy efficiency. If you live in a cold climate where pipes can freeze, make sure the temperature is always at least 55 degrees inside the house; in warm, humid climates, don’t bump up any higher than 80 degrees while you’re away from home. The air conditioner needs to run periodically to help dehumidify air.
Weatherstripping is the best way to seal air leaks around doors and operable windows. Air-sealing your home can save you about approximately 15% on heating and cooling costs. To judge the right amount to buy, measure the perimeter of the doors and windows you’re covering and pad by 5% - 10%.
Turn Off a Smoke Detector
If you get a false alarm with your electric smoke detector (maybe you cooked the bacon a little too long), it's important to cut the power to the system and then disconnect each individual unit’s battery to stop the alarm. You can use a broom handle to pop out the battery panels of all ceiling-mounted units and once the smoke clears, immediately put the batteries back in each unit.
Pro tip: test your smoke detector units once a month and replace the batteries twice a year.
Find Your Main Water Shutoff Valve
If you ever come home to a flood, you need to be able to shut off the water to the whole house ASAP - especially if the source of the water leak is unknown. To locate the shutoff valve, take a look near your water meter. The shutoff valve might be in a basement, crawlspace, closet or garage, but should never be covered over with drywall; look for an access panel. In an emergency, you can also shut off your water from the outside water meter, but the valve might require special tools to turn.
If you’ve got tile flooring, tub surrounds or backsplashes, you’ll eventually see the need to clean the grout and keep them beautiful. Start with water and a stiff brush, and if that doesn’t do the trick, try an oxygen cleaner or a mix of baking soda and vinegar followed by more brushing.
Finding Wall Studs
If you’re hanging a picture or shelf, you need to be able to locate a wall stud to nail into for support. Start by locating an electrical outlet along the wall, since the receptacles are typically fastened to one side of a stud. Studs should be located approximately every 16 inches or so. If you tap on the drywall, it should sound hollow as you move to the left or right. As the sound changes, that indicates where the stud is.
Clean Refrigerator Coils
Maintaining your fridge is often missed while completing home maintenance lists, but proper cleaning is crucial to avoiding repair bills. Dirty coils make the fridge work much harder than it has to. This shortens it's lifespan — especially if you have pets.Pull out the fridge from the wall, unplug it briefly while you work, and locate the coils to vacuum them. They'll be either on the back or underneath the fridge behind the front grille.
Change the Air Filters on Your HVAC System
It’s important to schedule a maintenance checkup for your HVAC system every spring and fall but in the meantime, filters need to be checked once a month. When they’re dirty, make sure you change them right away as dirty filters shorten the lifespan of your system. Check your owner’s manual for the right part number in order to buy a new filter and make sure you turn off your HVAC system while you work. All you need to know is just remove the old filter and slide the new one in place!