You Can Do It! 5 DIY Repairs and Maintenance Tricks for Your Home
In the age of life hacking, where any common task can be learned online — like repurposing an old cassette tape case as a stand for your smartphone — a “do it yourself” (DIY) home repair or maintenance task may prove intimidating. When homeowners can’t see themselves doing the repairs, they’ll be more inclined to hire professionals to do the job for them.
In many instances, serious damage — such as a collapsed roof, a termite infestation, or a broken window — should be left to the professionals to repair. But for those smaller damages and maintenance issues that may give you pause before repairing, expert handymen like Scott Anthony Torcellini, the owner of Torcellini Handyman Services in San Diego, California, say that with the right tools and the right amount of research, you may be surprised to learn that you’re more skilled than you think.
Here are a few DIY repairs and tricks that any homeowner can try their hand at — and possibly save parts of their home in the process.
A clogged drain can be removed and flushed out with an outdoor hose to keep things running smoothly. (Paul Joel Hancock)
Cleaning the condenser will help your unit stay efficient. (Bruno Longo)
A basin wrench is needed to replace an old faucet. (Joe Shlabotnick)
A messy closet can cause the door to get off its tracks. (Emily May)
Wood filler can help repair rotted wood. (russteaches)
Refrigerators can be expensive to repair and too cumbersome to move by yourself. “They’re the most common culprits of issues and damages in the kitchen,” says Torcellini. If you’re stressing about the high cost that comes with buying a new refrigerator, Torcellini advises to follow these quick tips that should keep your fridge running smoother and longer.
- Clean and lubricate the door gaskets of the refrigerator with petroleum jelly. “This will extend the life of your door gaskets and help the door close easier,” says Torcellini.
- “Cleaning the condenser will help your unit stay efficient,” says Torcellini. Cleaning can be done with a vacuum and coil cleaner. Most condensers are below the refrigerator and can be cleaned with a vacuum once the front panel is removed for access. Other condensers can be found once the refrigerator is pulled out and the back panel is removed.
- If it is too difficult to reach the condenser with a vacuum, Torcellini recommends using coil-cleaning spray instead.
- Refrigerators can leak, so pull out the fridge and the base for any sign of leakage. “This is why I recommend never putting wood flooring in a kitchen,” he says. “I’ve seen slow and faster leaks do quite a bit of damage to wood.”
Clogged or Slow-Flowing Drains
Clogged drains also can inflict a lot of damage to the kitchen (and other parts of the house). But homeowners can easily clear these drains, says Torcellini.
- If your kitchen drain is connected using threaded PVC pipe, place an oil pan under the pipes to catch any water.
- Unscrew the connections on either side of the p-trap to remove it.
- Once removed, take the pipe outside of the home and flush out the debris with a garden hose.
- If that doesn’t work, you may have to call in a plumber or handyman.
Replacing a Faucet
While you’re unclogging your drain, why not replace your faucet, too?
- Before you install a new faucet, be sure to have a basin wrench on hand. “There is no other wrench on the market that will remove the nuts on the underside of the sink,” says Peter Marx, a basic home repair and maintenance instructor in Seattle, Washington.
- Disconnect the plumbing connected to the faucet.
- “Undo the nuts that are containing the parts that are visible from the underside,” says Marx. Once the nuts have been removed and all the plumbing is disconnected, it is easy to remove the faucet from the sink.
- Take your new faucet and basically do the same process in reverse, then screw in the nuts back in on the underside of the sink.
Putting Closet Doors Back on Track
A messy closet can do more than just give you agita when looking for your clothes. “Items that are stored in the closets can also push out the doors,” says Torcellini, while also pushing it out of its door track.
To keep the closet in its tracks:
- Using a screwdriver, remove the door track at the bottom of the doorway.
- Align the closet door with the header track, placing the door rollers on this header track.
- Tilt the door by up to eight inches, which will eventually allow the door to snap into place over the trap.
- After letting the door slide back and forth, screw in the door guide in its original spot.
- Going forward, the best thing to do is “keeping your closet organized,” says Torcellini.
Fixing Pest-Damaged Wood
The outside trim of a home can be susceptible to damage from a variety of offenders, like the sun, termites, and water damage.
- Spotting the damage can be obvious, says Torcellini, adding, “other times it may have to be discovered by poking the wood.”
- If it is minor termite damage, scrape the damaged wood with a putty knife.
- Apply wood filler to the damaged wood.
- After doing so, prime the now-repaired wood and wood filler and then paint over them.
- If the trim — and any other repair in this list — may be beyond your repair, call in the professionals.
“I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying to repair or update their home,” says Torcellini. “I have felt a greater sense of pride and ownership when I have had success updating or repairing my homes.”