Homeowner 101: Five Hacks for Easy Home Repairs

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When you get the keys to your new house, are you prepared to fix common little problems like a clogged drain, or change out the air vents, or shut off the water? The one downside to owning your home is that you’re responsible for the maintenance, and you’re on the hook for the bill if you have to call in professional help. Since houses don’t come with owner’s manuals, these are the five most common home repairs or fixes you’ll face as a homeowner.

Clogged Drains

Clogged drains are some of the most common home repairs you’ll encounter. The first thing you need to know is that not all drain clogs are created equal. An assortment of unspeakable things go down the various drains in your house, and each one has a different fix.

Shower/Sink

Try a commercial drain cleaner, and if that doesn’t work, try a plunger–a plumber’s friend–to break up the clog.

Kitchen Sink

Try plunging the sink drain with a plumber’s friend first. If that doesn’t work, put a bucket under the sink and remove the sink trap–that’s where most sinks back up. If the clog is further down the line, you’ll need to go to a home improvement store and get an auger, or a plumber’s snake, to completely clear things out. The auger drops down the drain and you crank the wire until it hits the clog; keep cranking and it should break through.

Toilet

Again, try plunging first, then use the auger to try to break through the clog. If there’s already overflow, it might be time to abandon DIY and call the plumber.

For any drain clog, if you can’t get the clog to break up without a lot of work, call a plumber–the pipes are more delicate than you might think and a plumber charges a lot less to unclog a drain than to replace pipes.

Find Wall Studs

You could go to a home improvement store and buy a stud finder, but it’s easy to do if you know a bit about construction. Wall studs have to be at least 16 inches apart, and electrical outlets are usually placed at a stud so that the wires have a support. The baseboards are also nailed to studs, so look for nails under the outlets. Rap on the wall at that spot with your knuckle, you should hear a thunk. Rap three inches over and you should hear a hollow sound–the thunk is the stud. Measure 16 inches over, and you should find another one. The studs are a couple of inches wide, so you’ll have to play around to find the middle.

Replace An Air Filter

Air filters trap all the dust, dirt,and pet dander that are in your house, and your should replace or clean them monthly. If you have a permanent filter, it still needs to be washed out every month. First, remove the furnace cover and see what size filter you need. You can order them in bulk, or get them at any big box store. Once you have the right size, pull out the old one and slide the new one in; replace the cover. Repeat in thirty days.

Shut Off Water

If something is leaking and it’s not the roof, you’ll need to turn off the main water valve. That’s usually in your basement, or on an outside wall near the utility area of the house. If you don’t know where it is, go find it now–better now than when you’re standing in three inches of water. Turn the valve clockwise and the water to the entire house is turned off.

Finding the Squeaks

If your house creaks and squeaks, there’s not necessarily a ghost in residence–it could be a number of things.

Furnace Whistles

Cold ducts whistle when warm air comes through. Pad the ducts against wood framing so they don’t rattle, and make sure there’s nothing blocking the return.

Loose Hinges

When a hinge gets a little loose, it gets a little noisy. Take the hinge pin out and coat it with naval or petroleum jelly, and put it back. Slide it up and down to grease the channel until it quits squeaking. Squeaky hinges make for satisfying home repairs!

Hardwood Floors

Hardwoods shrink around the nails after awhile, causing squeaks when you walk across the room. You can fix it by going under the house and drilling a screw through the subfloor into the wood. Just make sure it doesn’t poke through on the other side. There are also nail systems that go through the right side of the floor and the nailhead pops off so it’s invisible.

Pacific Mortgage is here to help you through not only the mortgage process, but we’re around after you move in, too–so when you’re ready to buy a house, give us a call–we’re you’re lifelong mortgage partner.