I was brought up in a family where “handy” just wasn’t part of our vocabulary. If something was broken, the only tool we used was the telephone to call the right repairman. When I got married, that all changed, as my husband is a true believer in DIY. In our joint union, we’ve had to find the middle ground. With two careers and two kids, there is no way we have the time to take care of everything ourselves. However, I have learned, there are definitely situations when it is more than worth the effort and internet search to try.
You Are More Capable Than You Think
For example, recently when a friend was faced with a clogged toilet, she was almost ready to call in a plumber for a minimum cost of $75. However, her gut told her to at least put on a pair of rubber gloves, stick her hands down into the murky water and see if she couldn’t clear the clog herself. Sure enough, she discovered one of her kiddos had tried to flush a pull-up and it had gotten stuck.
Was it a pleasant experience? Probably not, but neither would have been writing a whopping check to deal with this diaper dilemma. Sometimes we have to be willing to trust our common sense, roll-up our sleeves and even get a little dirty when it comes to caring for our homes. If often pays off both in money saved and an increased sense of empowerment.
One of the best ways to avoid taking on repair projects yourself or paying someone else is by staying on top of minimal home upkeep. There is a “help around the home” calendar at hgtv.com that will keep you on track when it comes to which tasks to tackle each month. A few highly suggested ones include:
Replacing the filters on your HVAC unit. Recommendations vary from monthly to every three months, but by looking at the filter you can tell if it needs to be replaced. Check the measurements on the current one and then head to your local hardware store and stock up. Changing your filter regularly will not only extend the life of your unit, but also ensure it is working at maximum efficiency keeping your monthly bills lower.
Cleaning out gutters and downspouts at least twice a year, could save thousands in potential water damage to the inside of your home or in structural repairs to your home’s foundation. It is best to use a ladder for the job rather than climbing up on the roof. Wear gloves and just scoop out leaves, debris and any other gunk that might be blocking the proper drainage flow. There is a full tutorial at lowes.com with additional info on how you can even fix minor damage yourself.
More than 15,000 dyer fires occur in homes each year caused by blockages in the appliance’s exhaust ducts. Service companies can do the job for you at an average of $100 per visit, but in most cases it is a straightforward process that won’t take you more than about twenty minutes to take care of yourself. Step-by-step instructions with visual aids are available at prettyhandygirl.com.
The Right Tools for the Job
Homeowners often hire out certain jobs because they don’t have the necessary tools. However, before dialing up your favorite fixer, first check online at places like Home Depot or Lowes to see if you can rent what you need. For example, in Florida it is common for nasty mildew and mold to build up on pool cages. For just $50, you can rent a mid-size power washer for an afternoon from Home Depot and spray the gunk away yourself instead of paying two or three times that amount for someone to do it for you.
Also, there are a few tools beyond your basic hammer, screwdriver and wrench, which each cost lest than $30, and are worth the investment to have on hand. These include:
A Utility Knife
A hand snake for clogged sink or shower drains
A Toilet Auger and/or an accordion plunger for backed up toilets
An Electronic Studfinder
When Paying Someone Else is a Worthwhile Investment
While managing minor repairs and routine maintenance yourself can certainly pay-off, there are times when there really are jobs better left to the experts.
Electrical work can be dangerous and very few homeowners have the knowledge needed for these kinds of repairs. In addition, there are safety codes that must be adhered to and when not followed could create safety hazards while residing in your home or issues if you want to sell it.
Warranty Obligations – Most of the priciest purchases for our homes, such as A/C units or Hot Water Heaters come with warranties that will save you a bundle if they malfunction. However, to fulfill the terms of the warranties regular service may be a requirement. Make sure you understand what your agreement states and then pay to have the necessary maintenance completed by a reputable professional. Be sure to keep all the receipts for the length of the warranty.
Speaking of Warranties
Whether you’re doing the work yourself or hiring someone, when it comes to things like leaky faucets, malfunctioning fixtures or broken appliance parts don’t forget to check the warranty paperwork that came with the items. (Note:This means you have to keep them to begin with, so if you don’t have a designated place to file warranties, create one or try this handy warranty saver app). Today, it is not uncommon for there to be 5 or 10 year or even lifetime guarantees, which means the manufacturer will ship you a replacement for little or no cost.