DIY repair and maintenance save you money. American Family Insurance recommends, based on their studying the market, that homeowners follow “The 1% Rule.” Set aside 1% of your home’s purchase price every year for maintenance and repair costs. With the average home price in the U.S. at $226,000, that’s $2,260 a year, or $180 a mon
Your average repair, if done by a professional, can be up to ten times more expensive than doing it yourself. Caulking a window, for example, will get you a bill for $250 from a contractor. Or, you could head down to a Lowe’s, buy caulk for $3, and do it yourself. This is just one example out of the dozens of little things you should be able to do yourself if you just invest in the time to learn and to buy your own materials.
Here are some of the most common DIY home maintenance skills that you can learn easily:
Clean gutters and downspouts
You’ll need an extendable ladder (we recommend getting a ladder stabilizer for safety and to avoid damaging the gutters). A long-sleeved shirt and work pants, rubber gloves. A plastic scoop.
This is a simple matter of getting up there and dislodging the gunk that’s accumulated in your gutters. This is usually leaves, twigs, and shingle grit.
How much you could save: the national average to get your gutters professionally cleaned is $157
Fix sticky drawers
You’ll need: candlewax (from a candle), nylon drawer slide tape, sandpaper (fine and medium grit), wood glue
Take the drawer out and check for loose joints or broken pieces. Glue any loose/broken pieces back. Then lubricate the the drawer with paraffin or candlewax over and under the drawers’ sides. Apply the lubrication to all edges where they slide into the shelf. You can also apply nylon drawer slide tape if the lubrication wasn’t enough to make opening and closing smooth. And if that doesn’t work, sand down the bottom and edges that the drawer slides on.
How much you could save: about $130
Fix a Leaking Faucet
You’ll need: an adjustable wrench, channel-lock pliers, a flathead screwdriver, scouring pad, and washers.
Very important: shut off the water first, unless you want to a new indoor pool and fountain. There should be a valve under the sink that you can use to turn off the supply. If it doesn’t have one, you’ll have to turn off the main water supply.
Disassemble the faucet. Remove the cap of the faucet handle with a screwdriver. You’ll find the handle screws which you can also remove with a wrench. Everything underneath tends to just sit on top of each other. Take note of how the parts (rubber seals, washers, springs) sit together. Most of the time, the issue is the washer, which you just need to replace. Put everything together, turn the water back on, and congratulate yourself for saving $150 dollars
Replace a toilet flapper
You’ll need: replacement parts (depending on where the problem is), adjustable wrench, screwdrivers, pliers
This is what the inside of a toilet tank looks like. Make sure you turn off the supply and then flush so that the tank empties. A running toilet will at best require you to fiddle with some parts that may have gotten jammed or stuck, or replace the whole mechanism altogether. This is pretty simple, and parts aren’t hard to find.
The usual culprit is a faulty flapper or a tangled chain. If it’s the latter, just reach in and untangle it. If it’s the flapper, you can replace this with a new one. Just unscrew it and pull it out, and put a new one back in and hook it up to the rest of the assembly. If it’s something else, you can check out this list of simple repairs you can do in your toilet tank.
How much you could save: about $100
When You SHOULDN’T Do Your Own Repairs
Of course, there are cases where you should leave it to the professionals. Anything that involves electricity or gas, like furnace installation or electrical rewiring, you want to make sure it’s being handled by experienced contractors.
But aside from these, there are many tasks that you can do yourself. And aside from the money that you can save by doing so, there’s also the satisfaction of getting something done yourself. Good luck!