Congratulations! You bought your first house. Regardless of whether you bought a fixer-upper, a brand new unit, or something in between, there will come a point where you’ll have to troubleshoot an issue and perhaps make a minor repair on your own.
A big part of budgeting during homeownership is understanding that it is not cost effective to call someone every time something breaks.
These six projects and repairs around the home are ones you can do yourself. Remember, though, that sometimes the problem will be too much to take on by yourself, or the solution isn’t as simple as it seems. There’s no shame in calling a professional.
1) Find a stud to hang a heavy picture or mirror
Drywall is fine for thumbtacks and hanging lightweight decor, but you’ll need to find a stud for framed art or heavier items. You don’t need a fancy stud-finder—a heavy-duty magnet or simple measurement can do the trick. Studs are typically 16 inches apart. Find them by starting at the corner of the wall, measuring out 16 inches, and tapping on the wall listening for a solid thud instead of a hollow noise. You can also use a magnet by running it slowly along the wall until you feel it “catch.” For hanging large framed photos, picture framing wire and an angled nail will keep the hanging weighted properly.
2) Unclog a drain
A combination of baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water is a simple, non-toxic way to clear out grimy, slow, or clogged kitchen drains. Start by pouring a kettle of boiling water down the drain, followed by a half-cup of baking soda. Wait a few minutes, then add equal parts vinegar and hot water. One cup of each is a good place to start. Cover the drain opening, wait 10 minutes, then follow with more boiling water. This won’t work to dissolve hair clumps in bathroom drains, but there are nifty devices you can buy to help prevent shower drains from dreaded hair clogs in the first place.
3) Clear a blocked defrost drain
Dripping water inside your refrigerator is messy and annoying—and potentially a simple fix. Remove all items from your freezer and refrigerator and locate the drain, either at the back of the freezer or under the produce drawers. If debris has built up and clogged the drain, it will cause the hose to freeze and will create buildup that drips water down the back of your refrigerator. Engage those arm muscles and chip away at the ice with a screwdriver or other handy tool until you can pour hot water down the drain, making sure to put a pail or bowl under the opening at the back of your refrigerator. If the water is pooling under your refrigerator on the floor, it’s probably not from the defroster valve and you’ll want to shut the water off and give someone a call.
4) Stain your deck
A fresh coat of stain won’t just spiff up a porch, front steps, or deck—it will also help waterproof the wood and prevent rot and damage from UV rays. Refreshing deck stain every few years is a good way to maintain the health of exterior wood and is easy to do yourself. Begin by washing away any debris from the surface of the wood, followed by a pressure wash or deck cleaner. Once the deck is smooth and cleared, apply the stain with a brush, working in the direction of the wood grain for a uniform finish. A wide brush or roller will both work, but the brush will help work the stain into the wood. Looking to seal the surface? Learn more about the difference between sealing and staining here.
5) Patch holes in drywall
Unsightly holes in drywall can come from any number of places—moving furniture, rowdy kids, or changing the wall decor a few times too many. Spend an afternoon with a container of spackle, a putty knife, and some sandpaper. Go around the house filling every small dent and screw hole you can find. First, fill the hole with spackle and smooth it over with the putty knife. Once the patches are dry, sand the spackle to the level of the wall, then hit the areas with paint to make each wall look good as new. Larger drywall holes will require more effort and materials, but even that can be a satisfying DIY.
Need some extra cash to perform DIY projects around the house? See if refinancing your mortgage could save you money today