Risk: If your house was built before 1994 and still has the original plumbing fixtures, you’re using 30 to 40 percent more water than a comparable new home. Because about 70 percent of the water flowing through the showerhead is hot, that means higher heating bills too. A basic showerhead can cost just $15 and could pay for itself in reduced water and heating costs after just one month. Calculate your savings at epa.gov/watersense/watersense-calculator.
This was our second use of the JW Home Improvement. The first time experience was wonderful. They were professional, did the job within agreed time and price, so we hired them again. This second experience was the polar opposite. We were seeking handyman services, but the estimator from JW turned each item on the list into a major job. We ended up with a coupon that we'd paid for, but no handyman services delivered, and no follow up call from the company to discuss. We ultimately hired another handyman who did a beautiful job within budget.
How to DIY it: You should already be emptying the lint trap before every load of laundry. To do a thorough cleaning of the dryer and its vent duct system, unplug the machine (and turn off the gas valve if it has one). Pry off the access panel on the front (try a putty knife covered with duct tape to prevent scratching) and vacuum around the motor and heating element (above). Then carefully disconnect the vent duct tubing from the back of the dryer and use a dryer vent brush (about $10 at home centers; look for one that also cleans refrigerator coils) to pull out any accumulated lint. Aim to do this at least once a year.
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.
How to DIY it: Clean up any rough edges around the hole, then stick the patch onto the wall over the hole (left). Using the taping knife, spread a layer of joint compound over it and let it dry overnight. Then spread a wider second coat, feathering out the compound on all sides to make the patch blend in. Let it dry, then apply one more coat extending 8 to 12 inches beyond the patch in all directions. After the final coat dries, sand the area with a sanding sponge (a foam block wrapped in sandpaper) until it feels smooth and even. Prime, and then paint.
Sooner or later, every sprayed ceiling is going to get a water stain or a scrape. Spray texture in a can won’t perfectly match every ceiling texture, but it’s usually close, and a lot easier than respraying a whole ceiling. Before spraying, seal the patch with a stain-blocking primer, cover the floor and furniture, and practice your technique on scrap plywood or cardboard. Buy ceiling texture on Amazon now.
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.
A variety of problems can befall your home’s doors, especially older doors that may start to sag, stick, develop drafts or experience other issues. Fixing or replacing a door is well within the capabilities of most homeowners, especially if you have a partner to help out. From installing new weather stripping to replacing the lock, you can handle it. Watch this video to see how simple it is to replace an interior door yourself.
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: 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.
If a screw turns but doesn’t tighten, the screw hole is stripped. Here’s a quick remedy: Remove the screw and hardware. Dip toothpicks in glue, jam as many as you can into the hole and break them off. You don’t have to wait for the glue to dry or drill new screw holes; just go ahead and reinstall the hardware by driving screws right into the toothpicks.
How to DIY it: There are lots of ways to clear a drain, so start with the easiest one. If your sink has a pop-up stopper, remove that and clean it. If that doesn’t do the trick, fill the sink with 3 or 4 inches of water and use a plunger to plunge the sink (plug the overflow hole with a wet rag first). Still slow? Try snaking the drain pipe with a metal hanger or a pipe-cleaning tool (sold at hardware stores for about $2).
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.
If you find that drawer slides are bent, rollers are broken or rollers won’t turn even after lubricating, replacement is the best solution. To keep the project simple, buy new slides that are identical (or almost identical) to the old ones. That way, replacement is an easy matter of unscrewing the old and screwing on the new. Remove a drawer track and a cabinet track and take them shopping with you. Learn how to build an under-cabinet drawer here.
You may qualify if all of the following apply to your household:A child under six resides in your home or spends at least six hours per week in your home on a regular basis You have owned and lived in your home for more than one yearYour home was built before 1978You live in one of these city neighborhoods:Bond Hill, Westend, Over-The-Rhine, Mt. Auburn, CUF, Corryville, Madisonville, Avondale, South Cumminsville, North and South Fairmount, West, East and Lower Price Hill, Walnut Hills, Evanston Northside or Carthage