Home Maintenance and Repairs every Homeowner should know how to do on their own.


Not every home repair project should be DIY'ed. There are lots of things you should probably leave to the professionals. However, there are some things that every homeowner should know how to do on their own. Here's a list of home repair and maintenance projects that every homeowner should learn to tackle on their own.

Unclog a sink, drain or toilet. Did you know that there were different plungers for your sink and toilet? The standard domed plunger with the wide mouth is meant for flat surfaces and works best for clearing clogs in sinks and tubs. Then there is the toilet plunger which has an added flange and a narrower opening. This plunger can just as effectively be used on a sink or tub. All you have to do is fold in the flange so that you get a flat opening. However, it’s probably not a good idea to use the same plunger for both your sinks and toilets.

Clean your appliances. In order for your appliances to continue to work properly, some routine maintenance is required.

Front Load Washers- It’s recommended you clean your front-load washer about once six weeks. Because they never really dry out completely after each load, your front-load washing machine can be a breeding ground for mold and. A lot of today’s washers have a self-cleaning cycle. If yours does, use it. However, for those that don’t, just set the washer to run at hottest, longest cleaning cycle available. Add two cups of vinegar plus a quarter cup of baking soda, and let it run through the cycle. Once the cycle is done, grab a sponge and a little water and wipe down the inside of the drum and rubber seal and you’re done.

Front Load Dryers- Unplug the dryer, pull it away from the wall, and vacuum lint out of the dryer duct. If the duct is damaged or torn, replace it.

Dishwashers- Fill a cup with vinegar then place it in a dishwasher safe container on the upper rack, and run a cycle. When it's done don't forget to clear the drain.

Garbage Disposals - Make sure the disposal is off before clearing the drain. Pour half a cup of baking soda, followed by a half cup of vinegar down each side of the sink and let it sit. After a few minutes, flush both drains with hot water. For odor, throw some citrus fruit peels into the disposal with as much ice as you can fit into it, run some cold water, run the disposal and watch all that muck come up and down the drain again.

Caulking. Did you know that caulk can fix anything? Ok maybe not everything. I think duct tape takes that honor. Water from sinks and showers produces a lot of moisture. Caulk is intended to protect the drywall and prevent mold and mildew. There will come a time when the existing caulk cannot be adequately cleaned and requires replacement. First, you will need to remove the old caulk. Use a sharp tool like a razor blade or an exacto knife with some mineral oil or vinegar. Once the old caulk has been removed, tape the area that needs to be re-caulked the same way you would tape trim when painting. Then using a caulk gun, apply the caulk. Run a gloved finger or an ice cube over the line to get a smooth concave surface.

Clean gutters and downspouts. Gutters collect rainwater and direct water away from the roof and foundation. Make sure to check and clear your gutters at least a couple of times a year, especially after the fall. You can use your hands, a leaf blower or a wet-dry vac. Check out our Hacks from the Frontline Blog for DIY gutter cleaning hacks.

Replace air filters. Your HVAC air filters should be replaced every 6 weeks. More often if you have pets or smokers. Clogged HVAC filters not only pollute your breathing space, but can damage and prematurely age your HVAC system. Change your HVAC filters regularly to avoid more costly HVAC repairs down the line.

Patch a hole in the wall. Scrapes, dings and even holes will befall your walls at some time or another. For small holes check out our Hacks from the Frontline blog for some easy nail or screw filling hacks. For small dings that are bigger than a nail hole, you can use quick-drying spackle. Fill, sand to smooth, wait for the spackle to dry and then paint. Easy breezy. For larger holes, head to the nearest hardware store for a patch kit. They are easy to purchase and even easier to use.

Replace a light fixture. Before you do anything shut off the power to the fixture at the panel. Make sure you flip the right breaker. A sure way to make sure you’re flipping the right breaker is to leave the light you’re planning to switch ON before turning off the power. If the light is still on, keep flipping until the light goes off. If your breaker panel is not labeled or not labeled correctly, that’s another project you might want to take on yourself. Read on for instructions. Next remove the canopy- the domed or outer covering that covers the wires and hardware. Usually it’s a screw or set of screws holding the canopy in place. Unscrew or undo whatever mechanism is holding the canopy in place and let it drop down. Changing a light fixture is essentially unscrewing three wires to disconnect the old fixture and connecting the same wires to the new fixture. When you get the canopy off, you should see three sets of wires: black, white, and green (or copper) that need to be disconnected in order to remove the old fixture. Unscrew the wire connectors and separate the fixture wiring from the ceiling wiring- lefty loosy and remove the old fixture. Now all you need to do is connect the new fixture wires. The wires coming out from the ceiling will have bare ends and the wires for the new fixture will have what looks like frayed, silver ends. Twist the frayed ends of the new black wire to the exposed end of the black wire coming down from the ceiling and twist on a wire connector- righty tighty. Rinse and repeat for the white wire. The copper (or green) wire may be a little different. Sometimes it connects to a green grounding screw and other times to a dedicated copper wire coming from the ceiling/electrical box. If there’s a copper wire pre-installed in your ceiling, connect the new wire to the existing copper wire. However, if you just have a small green screw on your mounting plate, wrap the new copper wire around that. Now secure the new fixture, restore power and test it out. If you turn the power back on and the light still doesn’t work, most likely either the white or black wires weren’t fully connected. Just pull the fixture back down and inspect the connections.

Label your breaker panel. An electrician will charge you hundreds of dollars to trace and label your breaker panel. This one is a 2- man job, but one that you can handle yourself. Just call a friend and grab some self-adhesive labels. Turn each breaker on and off while your partner identifies which lights or electronics are affected. Do this for every breaker and affix the appropriate label.
You will be happy you did it when it’s time to change that light fixture.

Replace a window or door screen. Remove the old screen from the frame, cut the new screen to size. Make sure to cut the new screen about 2 inches wider than the frame. Pull the screen tight over the edge and push the screen into the channel using a screen roller. You can pick one up for a couple of bucks wherever you buy your screening material. Push the pline into the channel to scure the screen and trim off any excess material.

This list should get you started. Look out for more tips in the future.

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