If you own a home, then you are already a handyman. Owning a home comes with its inevitable repairs – sometimes they seem endless – and many of these are not serious enough to warrant calling in a professional. Thanks to the many online resources such as this blog, you are able to handle minor repairs yourself, turning you into a true handyman. Like any other duties, though, being a handyman comes with secrets that you must learn.
1) Fix a clogged drain without taking it apart
A clogged drain is a frustratingly common household problem, and many clogged drains are not serious enough to need professionals. It can, however, force you under the sink in the middle of the night with a wrench and a rag, which is never a pleasant experience. Before you resort to taking apart your sink or phoning a professional, try a few tricks to unclog your backed-up drain.
First, try plunging your sink. No, I don’t mean grabbing the toilet plunger and sticking it in your clean sink. You can use a sink plunger, which is different than a toilet plunger. A toilet plunger has an extended part that goes beyond the dome shape, which is designed to protrude down into the basin of the toilet. A sink plunger does not have this protrusion and simply cuts off at the end of the dome.
2) Use the clean out plug to access your sink pipes
If plunging your sink doesn’t work, see if there is a cleanout plug on the main pipe. This is an opening you can unscrew with a wrench that gives you access to the pipes without taking them apart.
Once you have access, you can use a brush or something similar to feel around inside the pipe and try to remove the blockage. It is best to do this before you pour any drain cleaners down your drain, as they can be splashed out of the opening if you are not careful. Be ready with a bucket for any water that may have been trapped in the pipe.
3) Use dish detergent to plunge your toilet
If you are struggling with your toilet drain and do not have a toilet plunger on hand, or if the plunger just isn’t working, try using dish detergent. Pour about a cup of dish detergent down the drain and let it sit for 10 minutes. In the meantime, get a big bucket of hot water. After you’ve let the dish detergent sit, pour the hot water down the drain.
4) Fix your garbage disposal with a simple reset
Once you have owned a garbage disposal, you know how frustrating it is to not have one. Which is why, when your garbage disposal stops working, it is a huge pain.
Before you start working on your garbage disposal, though, you must remember to unplug it. This is really important, as you do NOT want it randomly turning on while you’ve got your hand stuck down there.
In order to unplug the garbage disposal, look under your sink for an outlet. Most sinks will have one, but if you cannot find it, just turn off the circuit breaker that gives power to your disposal.
Once power is off to your garbage disposal, look back under the sink and find the little red button underneath the cylinder that houses your garbage disposal. Press this button to reset it. Restore power to your disposal and test it to see if it is working.
If it still isn’t working, there is one more step you can take. In the middle of the casing is a small socket for an Allen wrench. Turn the wrench back and forth in this socket, which turns the gears of the garbage disposal. This should free up the gears and dislodge whatever is blocking them.
5) Learn your homemade cleaning solutions
If you are going to start mixing cleaners to create better cleaning solutions, you should learn what to mix and, more importantly, what NOT to mix. There are long lists of things you shouldn’t mix, but a few items to pay close attention to include:
- Glass cleaners
- Multi-surface cleaners
- Chemical drain cleaners
- Toilet/bathroom cleaning solutions
Many of these include dangerous substances such as ammonia. Mixing other substances together, like bleach and vinegar, can create very hazardous chemicals such as chlorine gas, something you do not want to deal with while trying to spruce up your home.
6) Caulk with alcohol and tape
A bad caulking job can make it quickly obvious a job was done by a novice. With some simple steps, though, you can make your caulking job look like a professional’s.
First, make sure the surface is clean using isopropyl alcohol. This will break down residues that can prevent the caulk from sticking. Next, tape either side of the strip where you will be caulking. Finally, caulk between the two tape lines – while applying constant pressure with the caulking gun – and finish off any rough sections with your wetted finger. Remove the tape and you’re finished.
7) Fix a leaky faucet
A leaky faucet can drive you mad while you’re trying to fall asleep, not to mention run up your water bill. Thankfully, there is often a simple fix. Generally, all you need to do is replace a faulty washer, O-ring or stem.
In order to determine the problem, turn off the water at both ends (handles over the sink and the mainline), then remove the knob handle with a flathead screwdriver. The packing nut must be loosened with a wrench, which should allow you to see the stem. If it doesn’t look damaged, remove it and look at the O-ring and washer. One of these three is likely damaged and the culprit of the leak.
8) Avoid hammering your thumb
Anyone who has ever hammered anything knows what it feels like to accidentally miss the nail and hammer your finger instead. Rather than endure this inevitable outcome, use a needle nose pliers or a comb to hold your nail in place and hammer away, not worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to feel your thumbnail tomorrow.
9) Fix cracked cement
If left alone, cracks in your driveway or sidewalk will always worsen. But fortunately, they are not that difficult to repair. First clean out the crack of any leaves or debris – you can use a knife to scrape them out and a garden hose to finish it off – then apply crack filler until it is flush with the rest of the surface. Wait about a day and if the crack is still visible, apply another coat.
10) Repair a toilet that “runs”
Like a leaky faucet, a toilet that constantly runs (or keeps refilling) is a nuisance and a waste of money. This nuisance, though, is most often the culprit of the flapper valve, which is simple to repair.
Remove the tank lid on the back of the toilet and look inside. There will be a flapper that sits at the tank’s base which can open and close, letting water out. Often the chain hooked to this may be broken or snapped free. This can be fixed by replacing or reattaching the chain. If the chain is attached but slack, the length must be adjusted. Just disconnect the wire from the flapper and reconnect it to a different location in the bar.