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DIY Home Maintenance: Quick Fixes for Common Household Problems

October 11, 2023
DIY Home Maintenance: Quick Fixes for Common Household Problems

Your home is a valuable asset, and taking care of it is essential. Whether you're a homeowner or a renter, knowing how to handle basic home repairs can save you time and money. While it's always a good idea to call a professional for complex issues, many minor repairs can be easily tackled on your own. In this article, we will explore some common household problems and provide step-by-step instructions for quick fixes. From fixing a broken toilet lever to unclogging a toilet drain, repairing a leaky P-trap, clearing a jammed garbage disposal, replacing a light switch, patching drywall holes, to loosening a stuck window, we've got you covered.

Fix or Replace a Broken Toilet Lever

Fix or Replace a Broken Toilet Lever

Toilet levers or handles can break frequently, but fortunately, they are easy to fix. If pressing the lever doesn't flush the toilet, you can usually reattach the chain inside the tank to solve the problem. However, in some cases, the handle itself may become corroded, or any of the connecting pieces (including the handle, nut, metal rod, or chain) can break. If that happens, you'll need the following tools and materials:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Replacement toilet lever kit (if the lever is broken)

The actual installation process is straightforward. You can follow a helpful video tutorial, like the one from Everyday Home Repairs, to guide you through the steps.

Unclog a Toilet Drain

Dealing with a clogged toilet drain can be unpleasant, but before calling a plumber, there are a few things you can try. You will need the following tools:

  • A toilet plunger (not a sink plunger)
  • A toilet auger (if the plunger doesn't work)

Start by using a toilet plunger specifically designed to create a tight seal with the drain. Sink plungers won't be as effective. If the plunger doesn't work, you can try using a toilet auger, which is designed to work specifically with toilets. The Home Depot YouTube channel provides a helpful video tutorial demonstrating the techniques for unclogging a toilet drain.

It's also recommended to pour 3 tablespoons of liquid dish soap into the toilet before plunging or using an auger. The soap acts as a lubricant and helps dislodge clogs.

Fix a Leaky P-Trap under the Kitchen or Bathroom Sink

Fix a Leaky P-Trap under the Kitchen or Bathroom Sink

Leaky pipes around the P-trap are a common issue in kitchens and bathrooms. These leaks are often caused by worn-out washers or loose/broken compression nuts. To fix a leaky P-trap, you'll need the following tools and materials:

  • A bucket
  • A 3-way plumber's wrench (if the washer was tightened too much)
  • Replacement washer (or a whole new P-trap)

Before starting any repairs, make sure to turn off the water supply to the sink. Some sinks have a shut-off valve nearby, while others may require turning off the main water supply. Once the water is off, you can proceed with the repair process. Jeff Ostroff has a helpful how-to video on YouTube that demonstrates the steps involved in fixing a leaky P-trap.

Clear a Jammed Garbage Disposal

Dealing with a jammed garbage disposal can be intimidating, but it's usually a straightforward fix. You'll need the following tools:

  • A flashlight
  • A 1/4-inch Allen wrench
  • Pliers
  • A garbage disposal wrench (if the other tools fail)

First, try pressing the reset button on the garbage disposal. If that doesn't solve the problem, you can use an Allen wrench to manually rotate the disposal blades and dislodge any debris causing the jam. Williams Plumbing & Heating has a helpful video tutorial demonstrating two other methods for unclogging a garbage disposal.

For more stubborn jams, a garbage disposal wrench specifically designed to fit into the disposal's main chamber can be used to remove any obstructions.

Replace a Light Switch

Replace a Light Switch

Replacing a light switch is one of the simpler electrical tasks that can be done by homeowners. If you have a malfunctioning light switch, you can replace it with the following tools and materials:

  • A flathead screwdriver
  • A Phillips head screwdriver
  • A replacement light switch

Before starting any electrical work, make sure to turn off the circuit breaker connected to the switch you're replacing. Once the power is off, you can proceed with replacing the switch. The Lowe's YouTube channel provides a helpful tutorial video that outlines the steps involved in replacing a light switch.

Remember to always follow electrical safety guidelines and consult a professional if you have any doubts or concerns.

Patch Drywall Holes

Patch Drywall Holes

Holes in drywall are a common occurrence, but they can be easily fixed with some basic tools and materials. Depending on the size of the hole, you'll need the following:

  • A putty knife
  • Spackle or joint compound
  • 80-120 grit sandpaper
  • Drywall
  • Drywall tape
  • 1-inch x 1-inch wood board
  • Electric drill
  • Wood screws

For smaller holes, such as those left by nails or screws, you can clean the area, apply spackle, let it dry, and sand it down for a smooth finish. Larger holes require cutting out the damaged section of drywall, replacing it with a new piece, and securing it with drywall tape and screws. LRN2DIY has a comprehensive video tutorial showcasing different methods for patching drywall holes.

For a seamless finish, you may need to apply a coat of paint to match the surrounding wall color.

Loosen a Stuck Window

Stuck windows can be frustrating, but with a little effort, they can be loosened. You'll need the following tools and supplies:

  • A putty knife or pizza cutter
  • Paint thinner (if the window is painted shut)
  • WD-40 and/or a "dry" silicone lubricant spray
  • Cleaning supplies
  • A rag

Start by physically unsticking the window from the frame using a putty knife or pizza cutter. For painted-shut windows, you may need to apply paint thinner to loosen the paint. If the window still doesn't budge, using WD-40 or a silicone lubricant can help. Just be cautious not to spray WD-40 on vinyl windows, as it can cause damage. has a helpful video tutorial demonstrating various techniques for loosening a stuck window.

By having some basic knowledge and the right tools, you can handle many common household repairs on your own. From fixing a broken toilet lever to unclogging drains, repairing leaky pipes, clearing garbage disposals, replacing light switches, patching drywall holes, and loosening stuck windows, you can save time and money by tackling these repairs yourself. However, it's important to remember that safety should always be a priority, and if you're unsure or uncomfortable with a repair, it's best to call a professional. With a little DIY know-how, you can keep your home in good shape and handle minor issues with confidence.