DIY: Yes, You Can Fix These Things Yourself!

Panic may be the initial feeling when an appliance or mechanism within the household creates, for instance, a puddle of a problem.  The first thought may be to call a maintenance specialist.  It may be a surprise to learn that you can increase the longevity of your appliances with simple solutions, as well as semi-easy repairs.  Even if you do not feel qualified, there are numerous tasks that could save you time and money.  Between online videos for step-by-step instructions and the availability of standard parts, all it takes is the courage to say, “Yes, I can do it by myself!”

Fixing a Puddling Toilet: It happens – water is found beading on the outside of the tank and begins to puddle on the floor. This issue implies the wax ring intended to seal the fixture of the waste pipe has failed.  The first task is to disconnect the water line.  Turn off the “shut off value,” which is close to the wall; then, flush to remove as much water as possible. A bucket of water will eliminate the remaining water. Use a sponge, towel or wet/dry vac to dry the tank. Detach the water line from the toilet. Use a wrench to remove the two nuts holding the tank to the floor.  Remove the toilet.  Pry the wax ring with a putty knife and replace with a flexible polyurethane foam ring, which should cost no more than $14.  Then, follow the steps to put the toilet back in place.

Fixing a Clogged Toilet:  A poor flush can suggest a drain is either partially or completely plugged.  Refrain from flushing; instead, wait 20 minutes for the water level to drop. To loosen the clog, pour either a half-cup of dish detergent or combine one cup of vinegar with one cup of baking soda into the bowl; afterward, add a large pot of boiling water. If the water begins to drain, the problem is resolved.  If not, try a drain snake or plunger.

Fixing a Running Toilet: By removing the lid of the toilet, it is wise to assess whether the flapper (small black rubber piece with a chain) plugs correctly.  Check the chain first.  It may need to be adjusted in length or untangled.   If the flapper continues to leak, it may need to be removed. Turn off the main water line and flush to drain out the water. Unhook the old flapper and take it with you to ensure the size matches perfectly. The installation will take seconds, and clarification instructions are available on the packaging.

Fixing a Sticking Door: Wood doors are susceptible to the seasonal changes in humidity.  One solution is to tighten the hinge screws to pull the door back into alignment.  A second step is to close the door to determine the location of the barrier.  Mark the area with a pencil.  Remove the door from the hinge.  Use a hammer if difficulty arises.  A hand plane will be needed to scrape thin layers. Test the door.  The last step is to sand and paint.

Add Tasks to Your Calendar

Preventing household repairs can be achieved with regular maintenance tasks. While it may be easy to avoid cleaning those hidden, inconvenient locations, cleaning the dryer coil, for instance, can prevent a house fire while saving energy.  The following additional efforts will increase the life of your appliances.

  • Dryer Lint: Remove the rear dryer panel carefully with the protection of gloves, and clean the excess lint with a lint brush or vacuum.
  • Refrigerator Coils: Pop out the kickplate at the bottom of the refrigerator and clean with soap and water.  Coils may be behind the unit or underneath.  Using a thin brush to carefully weave and extract as much caked dust, dirt, and pet hair as possible.  A shop vac may be able to assist in eliminating the debris.
  • Stove Maintenance: While the range and oven should be cleaned regularly, add to your schedule to soak the exhaust fan filters. For best results, add de-greasing dish soap and baking soda to warm water. Allow the filters to soak before cleaning with a brush.

It is truly empowering to feel confident to fix household problems with basic tools, inexpensive parts, and a dash of know-how!


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