20 DIY Home Repairs Everyone Should Know How To Do
Homeownership can be a challenge. There is always something that needs attention, something that needs to be fixed, and there is no landlord to call to get it taken care of. If you own your own home, all that is on you.
And it’s actually extremely satisfying once you discover how self-sufficient you really are.
Even if you’ve never picked up a hammer or couldn’t pick a Phillips-head screwdriver out of a lineup, you can still make most common home repairs yourself thanks to your Internet connection.
In generations past, a leaky faucet meant thumbing through the Yellow Pages to find an inexpensive, available plummer. Now, you just need Google.
Or this blog post.
Below are 20 of the most common home repairs that you as a homeowner should learn how to do. Ultimately, doing so can save you potentially thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your home, and give you that satisfaction that’s unique to DIY living.
We’ll include a mixture of written tutorials and video tutorials because some of these repairs are easier when you watch someone else do them first.
How to Unclog a Toilet
Clogged toilets are often difficult because many of us start making bad decisions at the moment of truth, i.e. when we realize the toilet is clogged and filling up with water. It’s best to read Family Handyman’s guide on fixing clogged toilets in advance so you’ll know what to do when crisis strikes.
It’s pretty simple. A good plunger is your first line of defense. Failing that, you move onto an auger or plumbing snake, which costs less than $10 if you don’t already have one. Unless you have a two-year-old making regular deposits of jewelry and toys in the toilet bowl, the plunger or snake should do the trick.
Bonus tip: If you don’t have a snake handy and need to fix the clog quickly, mix a little dish detergent with four cups of piping hot water and pour it in the bowl. If the obstruction is biological in nature, that solution should break it down in a half hour.
How to Fix a Running Toilet
How to Caulk Bathroom Fixtures
Leaking showers or any other fixture in which you use caulk to keep it water-tight can seem intimidating if you’ve never fixed anything like this before, but home improvement expert Ron Hazelton has a great video that demonstrates how to remove old caulk easily and put down a new, smooth seal.
Click on the link for the video, but the basic idea is caulking features a four-step process: Removing the old stuff, preparing the surface, applying the new caulk, then smoothing out the material so it looks good.
How to Clean Bathtub Stains
Women’s interest magazine Jezebel has perhaps the best tutorial for removing stains and rings from your tub, courtesy of cleanliness expert Jolie Kerr. Kerr offers three different cleaning methods, depending on the material your bathtub is made of:
- A pumice scouring stick for porcelain tubs,
- Hydrogen peroxide for enameled tubs,
- And Simple Green or a Magic Eraser for acrylic tubs.
How to Fix a Leaky Faucet
There are different fixes for leaky faucets, depending largely on what type of faucet you have. Colorado public service Denver Water has a nice step-by-step tutorial on its site for compression faucets, two-handle washerless faucets and single-handle washerless faucets. Don’t worry; each of the fixes can be done with little more than a wrench and possibly a trip to the hardware store for an inexpensive replacement part.
How to Replace a Shower Head
Shower heads aren’t just a matter of screwing and unscrewing; the process is slightly more involved, but something even a DIY home-repair appreciate can handle. This tutorial from PlanItDIY.com has both a video and set of instructions to show you how it’s done. Just remember to have a pair of channel-locking pliers, some Teflon tape and a small towel on hand so you don’t clamp down too hard on the shower nozzle.
How to Clean Grout
Jessi Wohlwend has a recipe at Practicallyfunctional.com for homemade grout cleaner (it’s baking soda and bleach) that she uses to get her shower sparkling like new. The big thing to remember when working with bleach is to wear old clothes and have a way to ventilate as much as possible; those are fumes you don’t want to breathe.
How to Install a Light Switch
How to Install a Fan
Thisoldhouse.com has an eight-step tutorial for installing a new ceiling that is easy to follow. As frustrating as working on something overhead can be, this is really a pretty easy job as long as you go step by step and not rush things. You won’t need special tools, either.
Just remember that you’re installing an electrical device that gravity will constantly be working against. You’ll want to do this job right the first time, we guarantee.
How to Install a Thermostat
Honeywell has a sponsored tutorial at the Art of Manliness for installing a thermostat, and the process is really not much more complicated than hooking up an old Sega Genesis. The key is Step 3, taking a picture of the wire configuration. If you know how the wires should go back together when you’ve got the old thermostat off, installation is just a matter of plug and go.
Common Home Repairs
How to Fix a Squeaky Door Hinge
Here’s a quick-hitter from Apartment Therapy: If you’ve got a squeaky door and no WD-40 on hand, you can use cooking spray. Just move the door back and forth to get the lubricant into the offending hinge.
How to Fix Creaky Floorboards
Creaking floorboards — and stairs, for that matter — simply lack enough support, and standing on the under-supported plank provides just enough force to cause it to buckle ever so slightly, producing that squeaking noise. The DIY Doctor has a very thorough illustrated tutorial for fixing creaky floorboards. Maybe bookmark this one; the repairs are easy to do, but they’re more involved than some of the others on this list.
How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal
Portland, Oregon, family company Simpson Plumbing offers a helpful hint for either diagnosing or fixing a clogged garbage disposal, and its as easy as making a science fair volcano. Simply pour half a box of baking soda into the drain on the side of the sink where the disposal is, then pour the other half into the other side. Afterward, chase the baking soda with white vinegar and let it all set for a half hour.
If the disposal works fine afterward, you’ve unclogged it. If not, try the steps listed in the following video from Howcast:
How to Hang Wallpaper
How to Fix a Hole in the Wall
How to Replace Shingles on Your Roof
Replacing individual shingles is a breeze, as Danny Lipford at Today’s Homeowner demonstrates in a video on his blog. The process requires just three steps:
- Remove the nails holding the shingle you want to replace.
- Slide the new shingle in place, conforming to the roof’s overlap pattern.
- Nail it in place.