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
How to DIY it: Take off the loose bar by removing the screws on each of the posts that mount the bar to the wall. (If one side is solidly attached, leave it alone.) With the mounting plate now exposed, try tightening the screws in it. If that doesn’t work, remove it. Chances are you’ll find two plastic anchors underneath. Poke them with a screwdriver and let them fall inside the wall. Replace with bigger, stronger metal toggle anchors (above), sold at hardware stores. Just drive them into the existing holes with a drill or a screwdriver, and then reattach everything.
How to DIY it: Coils are located on the back of the refrigerator or across the bottom. Pull the fridge away from the wall. (Hint: Grab the sides and pull from the bottom. You may want to lay cardboard on the floor first to prevent scratching.) Clean coils with a coil-cleaning brush (about $10 at home centers), then vacuum. Do this every six months or so.
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).
Many towns have handymen who work part-time, for friends or family or neighbors, who are skilled in a variety of tasks. Sometimes they advertise in newspapers or online. They vary in quality, professionalism, skill level, and price. Contractors often criticize the work of previous contractors, and this practice is not limited to handymen, but to all trades. Handymen have advertised their services through flyers and mailings; in addition, free websites such as Craigslist and SkillSlate help customers and handymen find each other.
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.