There’s nothing worse than starting a sink or toilet repair only to find that the shutoff valve won’t shut off. Some shutoff valves are easy to replace. For those that aren’t, turn off the main water valve, remove the packing nut, and then unscrew the stem and take it to the hardware store to find a replacement washer. Clean any grit out of the valve body and pop on the new washer. The valve will work like new.
This is a fun one. Composite wood paneling may have been all the rage in the 60s and 70s, but unless it’s still in perfect condition and painted white, it’s probably an eyesore. Popping off this decorative paneling can take minutes, and is seriously satisfying. Just be ready: you never know what condition the wall is in underneath. Be prepared to do a little plaster repair and, of course, repaint. Click here to learn how to prepare a wall for painting.
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.
Silicone dries quickly and invisibly and doesn’t attract dirt, making it a good lubricant for drawer rollers, window tracks, door locks, bike parts, and other plastic, metal and rubber surfaces. It also helps protect metal against rust. Lithium grease is a long-lasting, weather-resistant (though somewhat messy) lubricant for garage door tracks, car doors and latches, and other metal parts that get heavy use outside. Check out 20 brilliant ways to use WD-40, another must-have lubricant for home repairs.
Another related issue for avoiding costly repairs (or disasters) is the proper operation of a home, including systems and appliances, in a way that prevents damage or prolongs their usefulness. For example, at higher latitudes, even a clean rain gutter can suddenly build up an ice dam in winter, forcing melt water into unprotected roofing, resulting in leaks or even flooding inside walls or rooms. This can be prevented by installing moisture barrier beneath the roofing tiles. A wary home-owner should be alert to the conditions that can result in larger problems and take remedial action before damage or injury occurs. It may be easier to tack down a bit of worn carpet than repair a large patch damaged by prolonged misuse. Another example is to seek out the source of unusual noises or smells when mechanical, electrical or plumbing systems are operating—sometimes they indicate incipient problems. One should avoid overloading or otherwise misusing systems, and a recurring overload may indicate time for an upgrade.
It is not uncommon for power switches and breakers to be accidentally turned off when other appliances are being installed. Homeowners are encouraged to check their circuit breaker to make sure the issue isn’t as simple as needing to turn a switch back on. A circuit breaker is typically located in the garage, although in some homes, the circuit breaker can be found in the basement, hallway or storage room.
Don’t let your toilet be a mysterious device in the corner of your bathroom: Toilets actually operate by very simple mechanisms that are easy to understand. The majority of toilet issues—clogs, continuous running water, loud noises, etc.—can be solved with the quick purchase of a replacement part and some tinkering in the tank. Don’t be afraid to open it up and take a look. Also note: These are the things you should never, ever flush down a toilet
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.
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