A garbage disposal is a bit scary when it’s turned on and the blades are noisily chopping up kitchen waste. But, if your disposal gets stinky, fear not. It’s easy to clean out the gunk and get rid of the smell. If the splash guard needs replacing, you can do that in 20 minutes! If you need to replace the entire disposal you can replace it yourself.
Other competitors include online referral services. In addition, some large home centers offer installation services for products such as cabinets and carpet installation. Sometimes homeowners contact a professional service after trying, but failing, to do repair work themselves; in one instance, a Minneapolis homeowner attempted a project but called a technician to finish the project, and the overall cost was substantial.
Even tasks that seem relatively small can add up. Consider the French doors that David Sievers, 53, and his wife, Ulin Sargeant, 47, installed two years ago to replace sliding glass doors on their two-bedroom house in Monrovia, Calif. The doors cost $2,000. But then they paid $1,700 for installation, $500 for a painter to restore the stucco and paint, and $1,600 for an engineering plan required by the city.
While you’re at it: If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, consider getting one. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an Energy Star–rated model can save you about $180 in heating and cooling costs each year. You can buy one for about $40 and install it yourself. It’s a relatively easy job; no rewiring required. On the other hand, these are home improvement projects you should never, ever DIY.
When the kitchen faucet leaks, you can’t just call the super. Instead, you have to find a handyman willing to do the work — unless you want to figure out how fix it yourself. But that would mean spending half a day at Home Depot wandering around the plumbing aisle. Buy the wrong materials and you may be back at the store a week later, or calling that handyman anyway to fix your mistake.
While you’re at it: Any appliance that uses water has a shutoff valve. But when valves go untouched for years, mineral deposits can make them impossible to close. Before that happens, locate the valves for your washer, ice maker, water heater, etc., and turn the handle (clockwise, about a quarter turn) every year or so (more often if your water is very hard), and then turn it back. Here are some ten-minute maintenance tasks you didn’t know you needed.
Sussex County Habitat for Humanity offers a Home Repair Program that performs repair services to help low-income homeowners impacted by age, disability and family circumstances reclaim their homes with pride and dignity. Volunteer teams work to improve the condition of homes by painting, landscaping, and performing minor repairs at minimal costs to homeowners who would otherwise be unable to complete home repairs on their own. In addition, SCHFH now offers home repair and renovation services on a larger scale that aim to alleviate critical health, life and safely issues. Able-bodied homeowners are asked to work alongside the volunteers in a cooperative effort.