12 Easy DIY Home Maintenance & Repairs

  • Home Owner Tips
  • Tuesday, June 18, 2019

As time passes, it’s common for homes to experience some minor wear & tear from everyday living. To help preserve your house’s long-term value, regular maintenance and fixing minor repairs as they occur are strongly recommended.

While you can hire a professional to do these tasks, you could also save a few extra dollars by doing these yourself using a few simple tools and some basic know-how. Here are 12 useful tips to help you get started.

1) Locate Your Water Shutoff Valve

In most homes, this is generally located in the basement or on an exterior wall. You’ll be able to close the water supply to your home in the case of an emergency or to prevent potential water damage if you are going away for an extended period of time. Simply turn the valve clockwise to activate the shutoff.

2) How to Reset a Circuit Breaker/GFI Plug

Power outages are an unpleasant surprise – but before you call an electrician, try resetting your circuit breaker. The tripped breaker will likely be the one in the off position, so turning it back on will reset it automatically.

Many homes will also have GFI outlets installed in bathrooms and kitchens, for the safety of using an electrical appliance near a water source. If a faulty device is plugged in or a power surge occurs, the GFI will also trip and lose power. In those cases, you can reset it by finding the outlet with a small button that’s popped out, and simply pushing the button back in.

3) Check Your Smoke Detector

Smoke detectors serve a vital role in your home, so it’s important to test them every few months to ensure it’s in proper working order. You can check by pressing on the small button, which should then emit a loud beeping sound. If the sound is weak, it is likely time for the batteries or the unit (depending on its age) to be replaced.

4) Safely Unclog a Drain

Stray hairs, dust and mineral deposits can often cause blockages to occur. For small clogs, pouring a drain cleaner will likely resolve the issue. To avoid damaging your pipes, you can make your own natural drain cleaner with some basic household ingredients.

If you have a tougher clog, consider using a drain snake as it can be inserted into the drain to physically dislodge the blockage. Drain snakes can be purchased at most home hardware stores.

Baking soda poured to unclog drainage system at home

5) Repair a Running Toilet

Before calling a plumber, try taking these inexpensive actions first:

  • Check the flapper seal for cracks, or whether it’s sealing properly.
  • Check the fill valve for leaks.
  • If any of the above scenarios occur, you can purchase a replacement part at most hardware stores. To install these items, here are some step-by-step instructions from Family Handyman Magazine.

6) Patch Small Drywall Dents & Holes

With children & pets in the home, it can be hard to keep the walls picture perfect. Luckily, small holes and dents can be repaired with some spackling paste (also called joint compound or mud), available at most home hardware stores. For larger holes, you can patch the area by covering it with another piece of drywall, then using the spackling paste to hold it in place.

We suggest taking a look at this tutorial video which can provide some step-by-step instructions on the process.

7) Winterize Your Hose Bibs

The hose bib is an exterior spigot that connects your home’s water supply to your garden hose. Before the start of every winter, ensure that you disconnect the hose from the hose bib in order for its automatic drain-down function to work properly. This will allow excess water to drain and prevent ice build-up in the pipes.

8) Change Your Furnace/Humidifier/HRV Filters

Within your home’s mechanical system, filters are placed for stopping excess dust and grime from circulating in the air flow. These filters, however, require regular replacements as they can get dirty quite easily.

Depending on various factors, such as how frequently you use the furnace, most filters should be replaced every change of season – spring, summer, fall & winter. To purchase the correct filter, check your existing filter for the dimensions printed on the frame. If you’re unsure where these filters are located, you can ask a service technician to point them out during a new home walkthrough.

Senior caucasian man changing a folded air filter in the HVAC furnace system in basement of home

9) Silence a Squeaky Door

Tired of hearing the door squeak? This common problem can be solved with a few drops of WD-40 on the door hinges, a lubricant available in most stores.

Alternatively, substances such as olive oil and petroleum jelly can work too – just use a rag or cotton swab to dab it on the hinge and hinge pin.

10) Clean Your Gutters

A clogged or dirty gutter can prevent water from draining properly, so it’s best to do a thorough cleaning a few times each year.

  • Make sure you use a secure ladder when accessing the gutters – and ideally have someone to spot you from the ground.
  • Use your hands or a trowel to remove the larger items of debris.
  • Finish by flushing the gutter with a hose to rid the rest of the muck. This can also help you check whether the gutter and downspout are draining correctly.
Cleaning gutters during the summer time.

11) Stop the Stench from Your Sink’s Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal installed in your kitchen sink is handy to have, but can also cause some unpleasant smells. To rid this stench (and clean the unit too), simply turn on the disposal and drop in some ice cubes, which can help loosen any stray food pieces still lingering in the system. Afterwards, dump some baking soda & vinegar, followed by a cut-up piece of citrus fruit (or the rind) for a fresh-smelling cleaning solution.

12) Fix a Sticky Window

Windows can sometimes be difficult to open due to a variety of reasons. To resolve this, you can try loosening the window and the frame with a putty knife, or with gentle taps using a hammer. Here are a few additional tips for how to unstick your window without damaging it.

With these tips, we hope you’ll be well-equipped to handle any future unexpected surprises in your home! If you’re a Trico homeowner and have any questions, our service & warranty technicians will gladly answer them or point out some of the features mentioned above during one of your home visits.

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