As a landlord or homeowner, you’ll eventually be responsible for making repairs to your property. Even new houses, built within the past decade, aren’t immune to things breaking, wearing, or losing their initial appeal.
For bigger jobs, or ones that require special certification (like electrical rewiring or replacing the plumbing), it’s unwise and inefficient to try and tackle these jobs alone; you could end up doing more damage than you fix and spend more time than a professional would. However, there are dozens of small repairs, fixes, and improvements that even an amateur can handle if they make the investment.
Common Home Repairs to Know
These are some of the most common and important home repairs you should know how to make:
- Unclogging a drain. Odds are, you’ve experienced a clogged drain in the past, whether it was in the kitchen, bathroom, or some other sink or tub. There are many strategies that can unclog a drain, with some more effective than others, depending on the circumstances. Start by clearing the drain of any visible material; if it’s a bathtub drain, remove the cover and clear the area around it. Next, go underneath the sink and place a bucket to catch any water; then carefully unscrew the U-shaped “trap” underneath it. Clear that of any debris, replace it, and see if the clog has been cleared. If not, a commercially available drain cleaner (or a natural solution like baking soda and vinegar) can help in most situations. If that doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to contact a plumber.
- Showerheads and faucets. Showerheads and faucets can be privy to several different problems. Most commonly, they may drip or release water inconsistently. In any case, most of these problems can be easily fixed. Most showerheads can be unscrewed with just your hands; if you leave them soaking in a cleaning solution, or vinegar, overnight, they should allow water to pass cleanly—just make sure to tighten them properly. When correcting a faucet leak, understand that most faucets are different, but the source of your leak is probably a corroded washer that needs to be replaced, or a component that needs to be tightened. Turn off the water supply to the faucet and take it apart, piece by piece, using a screwdriver and, if necessary, pliers. Examine components until you find a weakness that may be the root of the problem.
- Unclogging a toilet. Toilet clogs are relatively common, and shouldn’t be hard to fix. If you have access to a toilet plunger and there isn’t much water in the bowl, you can center the head of the plunger and unclog most leaks with 8 to 10 plunges—just make sure you’re using a toilet plunger, not a sink plunger. If that doesn’t clear the clog, you may need to invest in a toilet auger, which is a simple-to-use tool that can handle most clogs.
- Fixing a toilet lever. Clogs aren’t the only problems that toilets can face. If the water keeps running after a flush, you may have a problem with the toilet lever. Toilets are actually relatively simple; as a short-term measure, you can turn off water to the toilet by finding the valve and turning it clockwise to shut the connection. Then, remove the lid; in some cases, the chain connecting the level to the flapper will become stuck, and you can simply untangle or straighten it. In other cases, one or more parts will be corroded or damaged, but these parts are cheap and easily replaceable.
- Replacing light switches and outlets. For most electrical work, you’ll want to rely on an experienced electrician, but replacing light switches and outlets is very simple. First, and most importantly, turn off any electricity running to your target outlet, and test to make sure it’s off before you do any work there. Then, remove the faceplate with a flat screwdriver, and remove the light switch or outlet with a Philips head screwdriver. Take the new outlet (which you can buy at any home improvement store for as little as a few dollars), and connect the wires to the appropriate spots (there should be a positive, “hot,” red wire and a neutral black wire) as marked on the outlet. Then, replace the cover and test to make sure electricity is running to it.
- Repairing drywall. It’s easy to put a hole through drywall, and fortunately, it’s pretty easy to repair, as well. For small holes, a putty knife and a bit of spackle will do the trick; smooth over the top of the hole and sand it down when it dries. For bigger holes, you’ll need to cut out a rectangular section of drywall, then cut a new section matching it from scraps (or a new piece of drywall). Then, apply joint compound and/or drywall tape, and sand down the area once it’s dry.
- Though not technically a repair, painting your property every few years can breathe new life into your rooms (and improve your property value). You can get paint fairly cheaply—between $15 and $30 per gallon—and it doesn’t take much to prep your walls with tape and primer. Professional painters can cost you hundreds of dollars, so make sure you take on this job yourself if you want to save money.
Knowing When to Call a Professional
The DIY approach can save you money, but it’s going to cost you time—both to learn what needs to be done and to do it. It will take you more time than a professional, on average, because you won’t have the experience they do, but you also won’t have to wait for your appointment to come around.
Overall, it’s good to know how to take care of the simple things that go wrong with your property, but it’s actually better to refer to a professional if you expect the job will take more time than you’re willing to spend, or if you’re worried about making a significant mistake. If you’re interested in keeping your property as hassle-free as possible, contact Green Residential today; our property management services will take care of any repairs that come up, and schedule routine inspections and maintenance so you don’t have to worry about it.