This article was updated on 02/01/19. Happy National Texas Day!
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:
Repairs that are well within the reach of the average Joe or Joan with a well-stocked toolbox.
Recurring annual and simi-annual maintenance tasks.
Repair jobs of a larger scope that require specialized tools, knowledge, or licensing required by the building code. For these jobs youll need a pro. For example, dealing with freon (or other refrigerant in your HVAC system) requires a license.
For the purpose of this article, lets focus like a laser beam on some of the jobs that you, as a homeowner can tackle in order to save money on service calls.
Unstop a Clogged-Up Toilet.
Its not the most enviable of jobs but it happens. If you have small children you can count on it; theres just something magical and inviting about that disappearing, swirling 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. Try doing this a minimum of three times. You might be approaching success and not know it.
If the plunger method fails you, the next step is to use a toilet auger. If you dont own one you probably should. You will have to shell out a few dollars but it is more frugal than calling a plumber. One use is cheaper than calling a plumber and you still have the tool for the next time (inevitable).
Clean Out Your Rain Gutters.
Gutters perform a great service when they flow properly, but the fact of the matter is that the do clog up with debris as the seasons change. In most areas leaves are the biggest culprits. Keeping them clear will go a long way towards preventing pests, overflows, and ice dams. In fact, why waste that water? Direct your downspout to a rainwater harvesting barrel.
Gutter cleaning is an easy job but it can get messy. Start by removing leaves and other debris by hand (yuck) and then use a leaf blower, garden hose, or wet-dry vac where appropriate to the situation. To finish up the job, dont 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 A/C 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 but essential 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 manufactures recommendation or a good rule of thumb is every month.
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, laminate, and tile 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 prodigiously.
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. Its 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. The Nest learning thermostat is one of the most popular ones on the market since it is an important component for home automation.
Unclogging a Sink.
Like toilets, sinks are sadly doomed to clog up at some point, not surprisingly. In the kitchen, its likely due to grease and food left-overs. In the bathroom, soap scum infused hair is the usual culprit. It is advisable to avoid chemical cleaners; a few of these are Draino, Liquid-Plumr, and Roebic Heavy Duty Crystal Drain Cleaner. They are a temporary solution at best.
As with toilets you can begin with a plunger but in this case use a half cup plunger. Dont try a plunger on a sink thats mounted below the countertop unless you can exert a slow, easy, smooth touch. No luck? Try a mini-snake that is made just for sinks.
If that doesnt 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 dont want to mess with the messy job of cleaning it up, spend a few bucks and just replace it.
I hope you enjoyed this article on essential DIY maintenance jobs and found it helpful for your money-saving home maintenance quest. If you did, I would consider it a favor if you shared the link with friends. And if you have some related ideas please share them with our readers in the comment section below. We are all in this together!
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About the Author:
Kelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.