For some home repairs, the smartest thing to do is to call a pro or local handyman for help. Sometimes, though, simple fixes can be fairly easy DIYs. Here’s a list of just a few common home repairs most homeowners can try with just a few handy tools, and without the added labor cost of calling a professional.

Clogged Sink

Materials needed:

Rubber gloves (optional), damp rag or cloth, plunger, bucket, slip joint pliers OR adjustable wrench

Fill the clogged sink halfway with water and make sure the overflow hole is blocked. Cover the drain opening, making sure the plunger is full of water. Push down firmly and lift slowly until the blockage clears. Run hot water down the drain for several minutes and unblock the overflow hole. If that doesn’t clear the blockage, try this. Locate the P-trap (the U-shaped pipe that connects the vertical pipe coming from the sink to the horizontal pipe that goes into the wall). Place a bucket underneath and unscrew the trap. You may need to use the slip-joint pliers if it’s too tight. Pull the trap away and let empty into the bucket. Clean the trap and reassemble, being careful to not over tighten. Run hot water to make sure the clog has cleared.

Leaky Faucet

Materials needed:

Screwdriver, pliers, slip joint wrench or wrench to fit, replacement cartridge or washer, silicone grease, heavy cloth, piece of leather or duct tape (if needed)

**BEFORE YOU START: Turn off the water supply and turn the faucet on. Wait until any residual water is cleared from the pipes. Plug the sink in case any small pieces fall from the faucet while you’re working. Put them in a safe place for reassembly.

Remove decorative handle cap (often marked hot or cold) by removing the screw underneath, then jiggle the handle to loosen. A screwdriver or slip joint pliers may be needed at any stage.

For modern faucets: Remove the interior cartridge using pliers. It may be held in by a lock ring or retaining nut that will need to be removed first using a wrench. Replace with new cartridge. For older faucets: Use a wrench to undo retaining nuts, remove headgear, locate the old washer, and replace it with a new one. Apply silicone grease to the screw threads, then reassemble the faucet in reverse sequence. Turn the water supply back on and check for leaks in reassembled faucets. If the problem continues, you may need to replace the faucet.

Slow-Flushing Toilet

Use a stiff bristled brush to clean out the holes under the rim of the toilet. Sediment and calcium could be clogging the holes.

Leaky Toilet

First, check the ball float. This controls the water level in the tank. Adjust the arm for the ball float by tightening the screw at the top of the arm or bending the arm downward which will stop the water flow sooner after a flush. The flapper may be another source of a leak. A new flapper sells for less than $5.00 and is simple to replace. Before replacing, make sure to clean around the area to remove any sediment that may cause it to seal improperly.

Moldy Bathtub Caulk

Materials needed:

5-in-1 tool, plastic razor, new caulk

Remove the old caulking so the new material will form a seal against the tub and tile. If moisture gets behind it, mold will form again. Use a 5-in-1 tool and a plastic razor to cut the caulking out. Caulk remover will help loosen any stubborn bits that won’t come up on their own. When that’s done, clean the area well and allow it to dry completely. Apply new acrylic latex caulk that contains mildewcides to prevent new mold from growing.

Scratched Floorboards

Materials needed:

Floor or multi-surface cleaner, soft cloths, steel wool, fine-grade sandpaper, mineral spirits, putty knife, wood filler or putty to match floor color, materials for varnishing floor

**BEFORE YOU START: Examine the scratches. Light scratches can be fixed with steel wool. Deeper scratches will need fine-grade sandpaper.

Clean the affected area with floor cleaner or multi-surface cleaner. Rub the scratch with steel wool or fine-grade sandpaper. Make sure to go in the direction of the wood grain and only over the scratch. Clean and smooth with mineral spirits and a soft cloth. Press wood filler into scratched area with a putty knife and leave it to dry. Using fine-grade sandpaper, sand the excess dried filler to the level of the surrounding wood. Clean the dust and revarnish the repaired area to match the rest of the floor.

Doors That Swing Open or Closed On Their Own

Pull out one of the hinge pins and lay it on a sturdy work surface. Hit the midpoint of the shaft with a hammer, then reinsert the pin. The blow will have bent it slightly, providing enough resistance to prevent the unwanted movement.

 

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