I often preach about regular home maintenance. However, home owners should also have basic repair skills too.
Basic repairs are those items that you can do safely, and usually don’t require a professional. Basic repair skills are sometimes useful as an emergency stopgap before the licensed contractor can make it to your home.
Basic repairs require some tools. Keep a toolbox well stocked and know where it is so you can easily find it when necessary. Besides the standard hammer, Philips and flathead screwdriver, your toolbox will need more items depending on your skill level. If you’re in doubt about your ability to make a repair, call a licensed contractor (you can do more damage if you don’t know what you’re doing). As a precaution and in case of emergency, you should know where the emergency shutoffs are in your home for water, electric and gas.
One of the first repair skills that I learned as a home owner is how to “snake a drain.” Bathroom drains, specifically, get clogged with hair and soap. Chemical products are a common solution, however you should always follow the directions and read the “cautions and dangers.” Chemicals don’t always work well, however. If used improperly, chemical drain products can also damage basins and pipes. Following the instructions, you can easily clear most clogs with a drain snake. A small drain snake should be part of your tool box. These are cheap to purchase and readily available at the hardware store.
Have you ever needed to change your door locks quickly? I have, once when a lock failed (the mechanism broke), and another time when someone stole our keys. Although most locks can be changed out easily with a screwdriver, specialized locks require a locksmith. Most locksets are designed as components that easily install. However, you should note that standards change over time, so make sure the lockset you purchase is the same size as the one being replaced.
Patching drywall is one of those repairs that is so basic that you can find “how-to” tutorials everywhere. Basic drywall patching requires a few basic tools, such as a “spackling tool,” utility knife, sand paper and spackle. Spackling tiny pinholes is easy. However, a larger hole may require some time for the repair as well as the cleanup. Damage to large areas of drywall will most likely require sections to be replaced.
Can’t find the leak from your sink or tub? There’s a good chance it’s coming from water that is seeping through old caulking. Caulk is used as a sealant in plumbing applications. It seals the fixtures and perimeter of sinks, tubs and shower stalls, which prevents water from trickling through. As it ages, caulk shrinks and can become brittle, which allows water penetration and leaking. A tube of caulk should be in your toolbox in case you need it for an emergency repair. You don’t need a large caulking gun, as caulk is available in many forms, such as squeezable tubes and even tape.