It would be awesome if houses and apartments never needed any maintenance. Until someone figures out how to build self-repairing homes (looking at you, Elon), we should all have a little DIY maintenance know-how.
Being a good homeowner or renter means more than paying your bills on time or knowing how to design a stunning gallery wall; it’s also about knowing what to do when something goes awry and needs fixing.
Hiring a contractor, plumber, or maintenance person every time your sink clogs or you put a hole through your wall can get pretty expensive. To save some dough (and up your self-assurance around homeownership, to boot!), we recommend starting with these five basic repairs and gradually increasing your DIY repertoire.
Patching a Hole in the Wall
It happens to the best of us. One minute you’re hanging up a photo, the next minute you realize you’ve nailed it three inches too far to the right. Now you’ve got an unsightly hole you have to patch up.
Remain calm--this is an easy one. First things first: you’ll need spackle, a putty knife, and paint. Clean up any stray bits around the hole and then spread spackle over it with the putty knife, applying a good amount of pressure on the knife to create a smooth layer. Let it dry according to the package instructions, then sand it down with fine-grade sandpaper until it’s flush against the wall. Touch up the area with matching paint and tada! Good as new.
Fixing a Loose Tile
But what happens when your tiles start coming loose? It’s important to address this issue quickly, since loose tiles often become broken tiles in no time, flat.
Heat up an iron and run it over the loose tile and surrounding area. This should loosen the adhesive and allow you to remove the tile from its spot. Use some alcohol to clean any leftover wet adhesive, and then a putty knife to scrape off any dried up residue. Apply a layer of fresh adhesive to the back of the tile and the gap and gently put the tile back in position. Use a rolling pin to press any air bubbles out and wipe away any excess adhesive around the sides.
If you want to weigh down a freshly set floor tile, top it with something heavy. A stack of large books might do the trick!
Silencing a Squeaky Door Hinge
Sick of squeaks ruining your midnight sneak to the fridge? Is your night owl roommate tired of waking up to EEEEEEK when you leave for work early in the morning? Silence that sucker once and for all.
For little squeaks, you can lubricate hinges with a quick spray of WD-40. For tougher jobs, remove the hinge pins and use something slick--like olive oil or petroleum jelly--to coat them before sliding them back into place.
Sometimes, the pin may be too dirty to fix with just lubrication alone, so take a steel wool pad and scrub dirt off the pin before lubricating. Replace the now-slippery pins into the brackets on the door, then swing that baby back and forth and listen to the sweet, sweet sound of silence.
Unclogging a Drain
There’s no worse feeling than taking a nice, long shower...only to look down and see your feet submerged in a pool of dirty shower water--or washing your dishes and removing the food trap, only to realize that your soapy dishwater isn’t budging. Depending on how bad the clog is, there are a few ways to solve this.
First, use an unclogging liquid. You can either use a store-bought chemical agent like Drain-O or create your own using vinegar, hot water, and baking soda. If a few glugs of that doesn't work, you can use a clean plunger to try to suction out the clog. (Note: we personally recommend going the all-natural route if at all possible. Chemical agents like Drain-O are pretty gnarly on older pipes and the environment.)
If neither of those work, you’ll need to snake the drain. It ain’t pretty, but it will likely do the trick. You will need a drain snake or auger. Position the end of the snake in the drain opening, turn its drum handle clockwise, feed the cable down the drain and keep going until you hit resistance. Rotate the snake until you no longer feel resistance and pull that clog out with a flourish!
Re-Caulking the Bathroom
Did you know that the little white lines of dried putty between the wall and the edges of your sink or tub basin are actually preventing water from leaking out all over your bathroom? Well, over time, it can break apart or lose its effectiveness, so it’s important to know how to recaulk.
All you need is a tube of caulk, a utility knife, and a caulk gun. (Don’t have one of your own? We might know someone who can help.) Slice the tube at a 45-degree angle using a utility knife and then load the tube into the caulk gun. Here’s the fun part: slowly pull on the gun trigger and carefully move the gun along the seam you want to fill. Quickly clean up excess with a damp rag and remember to let the caulking dry for at least 24 hours before exposing it to water!