Easy Home Maintenance Tips

by Alexis A. on 2011-02-218

One of the most feared concepts that many people face with home-ownership — no matter how many times they’ve owned their own homes — is the idea that something will go wrong with a vital component of their home. And leaky faucets, running toilets, low water pressure, light bulbs that simply won’t stop blowing out, and a bevy of other odd situations continue to cause headaches for many. In many areas in the country today, many would be homeowners are seeking opportunities that involve distressed or discounted properties by finding foreclosed homes online, but this may very well lead to their inheriting the previous owners’ problems.

When I got married, I breathed a slow sigh of relief because I knew that there wasn’t anything in our home my new spouse couldn’t fix. The Maytag repairman could go on permanent hiatus in our home. Now, I want to share a few of my husband’s favorite tips and tricks for keeping our home running like clockwork without spending a fortune.

Gingerbread House
Image from Wikimedia

Home Maintenance Tips for the Novice

Replacing Toilet Fill Valves

There is nothing more common — or more annoying! — than a toilet that runs. It can be constant or intermittent, but a running toilet is not only a nuisance, but also costly, as it racks up unnecessary utility bills each year. But no worries… here’s how to fix it:

  1. Purchase a replacement fill valve from your local home maintenance store. This part will usually run you less than $20.
  2. To turn off the water to the toilet tank, turn the faucet handle under the toilet to the left until it stops. Then remove the water from the tank by flushing several times and then soaking up the excess water with a towel.
  3. Place a large plastic bowl under the tank to catch any water you may have missed as you remove the old fill valve.
  4. Unscrew the supply line that feeds water into the underside of the tank as well as the large plastic nut that holds the old fill valve in place. Pull the fill valve out of the top of the tank, and lay it aside.

Now just follow the process in reverse to install the new fill valve. Make sure you install the large, black, rubber washer onto the new fill valve, and slide it up until it fits into the shallow groove. Replace the nut and supply line, and then turn the water back on. Allow the tank to fill, and then flush to test. Viola! Your toilet is now fixed.

Low Water Pressure in Faucets

Good news: This one’s really easy! Most faucets have a small, metal, mesh screen affixed to the nozzle of the faucet. In most cases, when the water pressure appears to be low, simply removing the screen and cleaning it thoroughly will fix the problem.

Does the fear of costly home maintenance stand in the way of you becoming a homeowner? Read Steps to Buying a House: A Checklist and One-Year Plan for Home Buyers to make sure you’re ready to take the plunge.

Light Bulbs That Keep Burning Out

You might think that a faulty wiring condition is the reason your light bulbs keep burning out. But before you pick up the phone and call an expensive electrician to come out, try replacing the wattage of the bulb first. High wattage bulbs burn out faster than their lower wattage cousins. This is because they overheat more quickly due to the amount of electricity that runs through their filaments. Try replacing 100W light bulbs with 60W counterparts, and discover just how long your light bulbs can last. You won’t lose any light integrity in your rooms, and you may notice a decrease in your utility bill as well.

Removing Wallpaper

Forget all those expensive wallpaper adhesive removal liquids and chemicals, and stick with warm water instead. Warm water works wonders when it comes to getting tough wallpaper off the walls and preventing excessive damage to the underlying drywall. The main idea behind successful wallpaper removal is patience. Take your time, and keep the paper wet; your walls will be good as new. The only gadget I actually recommend to make this process easier is a tool known as a “tiger paw.” This is a simple and inexpensive tool that creates small punctures in the wallpaper through the use of small, metal “claws.” These claws allow the warm water to penetrate more quickly.

The Foundation of Home Maintenance

These are just a few of the tips that my husband has for keeping your home happy and healthy on a budget. Starting with your eyes wide open is a good idea. Not all cheap houses are true bargain homes! It doesn’t hurt to get your home inspected every few years to make sure everything is still in prime condition and to catch any problems before they are upcoming big home repair expenses.

Copyright © 2011 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Healthcare Management February 21, 2011 at 11:47 pm

hey! whether management of health or home its really a very critical. we are always worried about these tasks. your post provides great information for novice… in fact its helpful for everyone, thanks!

Money Beagle February 22, 2011 at 5:46 am

One quick side note to one of the steps you mentioned. When you turn the water off to the toilet tank (and this goes to any water shutoff valves in your home, like under the sink), it may start dripping. This often happens when valves haven’t been moved in a while. To fix this, you just have to re-tighten the nut right behind the handle, most likely no more than a quarter turn. This is something that completely freaked me out the first couple of times I tried to fix anything water related, but now I sort of assume it will every time I do anything involving shutting off water.

Dr. Timothy Lawler February 22, 2011 at 10:29 am

Great article! Love the detailed info on how to fix a running toilet. Good detailed posts make you a great resource. Keep up the good work!

Rory February 22, 2011 at 1:58 pm

I always find it strange when people buy adhesive removal stuff for taking off wallpaper. Warm water works so amazingly! I haven’t had to use one of those tiger claw things before either… perhaps the wallpaper I was taking off was stuck on with less adhesive or something. I always find that taking off the first layer is easiest… and then I soak it with warm water.

Derek February 22, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Great short list. Probably the easiest routine maintenance tasks any homeowner should know is replacing air filters and checking smoke detectors. And I definitely 2nd Rory’s comment that soaking wallpaper with warm water is very effective to remove wallpaper.

Silicon Valley Blogger March 2, 2011 at 9:42 am

We’re not very “handy” so this kind of thing is somewhat foreign to me, but learning to do basic things can go a long way with saving money, especially here in California! Hourly rates here for outsourced services are pretty high, given the cost of living, but then again, you have to weigh your own time/energy costs against the hourly rates you’d pay contractors here to help you do the work.

Marcus @ Central Heating Repairs March 17, 2011 at 1:21 am

Keep a radiator valve key in your cutlery draw and use it to remove air from your radiators before the cold season starts for more efficient central heating.

Elliot Ramsey March 22, 2011 at 6:42 am

These are some great simple tips for a homeowner.

Indeed, many people would sooner pick up the phone to call a professional service to fix something that can easily use a little thoughtfulness and elbow grease. However, before tackling jobs that deal with exposed wires or unscrewing parts that are sealed, then maybe it’s time to seek assistance.

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