Your home can’t remain shiny and new forever, but that doesn’t mean you should go broke for a simple DIY fix.
When you own a home, there are expectations:
and then there’s the reality:
While owning a place that is 100% certifiably yours feels incredible, there’s no denying that it comes with a few downsides. Mainly that your home won’t stay new and shiny forever. Things wear, they tear, and bits and bobs start to break down. Then it’s a whole circus of getting someone to come over, taking time out of your already busy schedule to accommodate that, and worst of all, paying them an arm and a leg for 10 minutes of prodding around.
Back in our parents’ days, when things like these cropped up, they just fixed it…themselves! So maybe we should take a leaf out of dear mama and papa’s page and see if we can tackle a few easy fixes (and save a cool few hundos while we’re at it).
1. Leaky pipe
Ignoring even a minutely leaky pipe can cause more damage than just a higher than usual water bill. It could damage your carpentry or wooden floors, which will be costly to fix when all it takes is just a simple one-step solution.
Step 1: Tighten the slip nut near the trap of the pipe. Voila.
2. Clogged kitchen sink
If the usual plunger, pouring hot water, or vinegar and baking powder tricks just don’t cut it anymore, it might be time to get your elbows dirty.
Step 1: Get a bucket out. It’s gonna get messy.
Step 2: Unscrew the trap from the pipe directly under the sink.
Step 3: Let the trapped waste spew into the bucket.
Step 4: Give the trap a rinse before screwing it back together.
3. Regrouting tiles
Is your bathroom looking a little grimy between the tiles? The kind of grimy that scrubbing for hours with straight-up bleach just can’t get rid of? It may be time to regrout, which sounds more painful than it actually is.
Step 1: Remove the old grout with a grout saw or utility knife. Be careful not to damage any tiles while you hack away at it.
Step 2: Clear your workspace, making sure to remove all dust and debris.
Step 3: Clean the tiles with a household cleaner.
Step 4: Break out the grout! Choose one that is pre-mixed and modified with latex, which is more water-resistant. Remember to pick a grout colour that matches your tiles or space.
Step 5: With a float tool, spread the grout over the appropriate area. Push the grout between the tiles by holding the float down on a 30-degree angle. Make sure to fill the space up completely by distributing extra grout around the joints.
Step 6: Once you’re done filling the spaces, use the float to scrape off any excess grouting material. Let it set as recommended on the packaging instructions.
Step 7: Use a damp sponge to remove excess grout. Wipe over the grouted area until it streaks, then turns the sponge over and wipe until the tiles streak again. Rinse and repeat until the grout residue is removed and the tiles are streak-free.
Step 8: When the grout has completely dried, buff off any excess grout with a clean dry rag. Pick a white cloth to avoid transferring any colour onto your newly minted grout.
Step 9: This step may be optional, but is 100% recommended. Apply a suitable grout sealer after buffing to ensure your grout stays good looking for longer.
4. Broken flush
Nothing gets you down in the dumps the way a broken toilet flush can. Fortunately, it’s a much easier fix than most people realise.
Step 1: Turn off the water supply by closing the valve on the pipe leading to the toilet.
Step 2: Remove the lid on the tank. Manually flush the toilet to empty the tank. To do so, identify the flapper valve (connected to the chain which is pulled by the flush lever) and lift it upwards by the chain. If the chain has completely broken off, there should be a nub which you can grip with your fingers. The toilet should go through the flushing motions.
Step 3: Find out what went wrong with the chain. A rusty and broken chain will need to be completely replaced (which you can purchase from any hardware store), but if one of the links is just loose then it can be reattached. It may also be a case of it merely coming off the flush lever bar or the flapper valve.
Step 4: Reattach the chain to the flush lever bar, flapper valve, or both. The chain is connected to the flush lever bar with a small metal clip and is secured to the flapper valve with a metal ring. Slip the chain back onto the clip or ring, using pliers to tighten the link or ring to prevent it from coming off again.
Step 5: Turn on the water supply and flush the toilet to make sure everything works. If you need to, adjust the tightness of the chain by moving the metal clip (which connects it to the flush lever bar) a little lower. Remove excess chain by opening a link with needle-nose pliers.
Step 6: Replace the lid.
5. Install a faucet
This is a two-step job which makes it twice as rewarding when you’re done.
Removing the old faucet
Step 1: Turn off the water valves under the sink. Turn on the faucet to remove excess water, which will relieve pressure in the lines.
Step 2: Take a picture of the plumbing configuration to use as a reference for when you’re installing the new faucet.
Step 3: Disconnect the supply lines. Place a small bucket under the supply lines to catch water.
Step 4: You’ll need a second pair of hands to help you with this step, as they hold onto the faucet while you use a basin wrench to remove the nuts holding the faucet.
Step 5: Remove the faucet. Clean off any grime or sealant that may have been left behind.
Installing the new faucet
Step 1: Place the gasket (or trim ring if that’s the kind of faucet you’re using) over the faucet holes in the sink. Set the deck plate with caulk or putty, depending on the gasket installation.
Step 2: Drop the faucet lines into the hole.
Step 3: Underneath the sink, wipe away excess caulk or putty from the installation earlier. Install washers and nuts while you’re down there.
Step 4: If your faucet has a pull-down mechanism, you’ll need to attach the quick-connect hose to the supply pipe. Pull down the hose and attach the weight. Skip to the next step for regular faucets.
Step 5: Connect the water supply referencing the picture you took before removing the old faucet. Do not overtighten the supply line connections.
Step 6: Slowly turn on the water to check for leaks. Tighten connections just enough so there’s no more leakage.
Step 7: Let your faucet run for a few minutes to clear the lines of any dust and debris. Make a final check for leaks and you can wash your hands of this fix.
6. Replace a lightbulb in a recessed light
A traditional bulb or light tube is a pretty straightforward fix, but if you are going for aesthetics your house probably has more than one recessed light. Admittedly, it can be quite tricky to manoeuvre a bulb out from such a tight space. So how many homeowners does it take to change a burned-out recessed light? Just one, really.
Step 1: Make sure the bulb is completely cool before attempting to remove it. Tear off a 30cm (approx. 12”) strip of duct tape and press the middle firmly to the bottom of the lightbulb.
Step 2: Take each end of the tape and fold it back towards each end. You would be essentially creating a handle to grab onto.
Step 3: Hold the handle, and turn it counterclockwise to loosen the bulb.
Step 4: Grab the bulb and spin it out the socket.
Step 5: Screw in the replacement bulb. Turn the light on to make sure it is installed correctly.
7. Patch a hole/crack in a plaster wall
Are the holes left behind from an old painting or picture driving you cuckoo-bananas? Did you wake up one fine day to find a crack had magically appeared on your wall? It’s not a defect you have to live with forever!
Step 1: Ensure the edges around the hole or crack is as smooth as it can be, taking care to remove any flaky paint.
Step 2: Fill the hole with plaster compound using a paint scraper. Sand the surrounding paint to roughen it up.
Step 3: Reinforce the hole with pieces of joint tape and cover the tape up with more plaster compound. Leave it to dry completely.
Step 4: Once dried, sand it by hand lightly. Dust the surface with a clean rag.
Step 5: Apply another coat of plaster and flatten it out (the paint scraper would do the trick). The second coat should cover the first coat entirely and a little more. Let the second coat dry completely.
Step 6: Smooth out the topcoat by sanding it lightly again, and dust it clean with a rag.
Step 7: Paint over the plaster with a colour that matches your wall. Or not. It could look very artsy.