How to DIY it: This job can be messy, so protect nearby surfaces by covering them with plastic or cardboard. Spray the springs with garage door lubricant (about $7 at home centers). Don’t use oil, grease, or other lubricants. They may be cheaper, or you may have them on hand already, but they won’t work as well and tend to pick up dust and grit—just what you don’t want on moving parts.
When a home is sold, inspections are performed that may reveal environmental hazards such as radon gas in the basement or water supply or friable asbestos materials (both of which can cause lung cancer), peeling or disturbed lead paint (a risk to children and pregnant women), in-ground heating oil tanks that may contaminate ground water, or mold that can cause problems for those with asthma or allergies. Typically the buyer or mortgage lender will require these conditions to be repaired before allowing the purchase to close. An entire industry of environmental remediation contractors has developed to help home owners resolve these types of problems.
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).
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.
The average single-family homeowner spends around $2,000 a year on maintenance, according to Bankrate.com. That is considerably less than the monthly fees for most condos or co-ops. But even though the monthly outlay for those homeowners might be lower than that of condo or co-op owners, house owners generally are not squirreling away those savings for a rainy day. Nearly half of them have less than $1,000 saved, and a third have nothing saved, according to Liberty Mutual Insurance. So when that sump pump suddenly fails, odds are, we’re scrambling to pay the plumber for a new one.
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.
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.