10 Things Every Homeowner Should Know How To Do
Being a homeowner means more than just owning a house—it's about knowing how to take care of it. Whether you're a new homeowner or have been living in your home for years, knowing these few essential DIY skills can save you time, money, and headaches.
In this blog, we'll walk you through ten crucial tasks that every homeowner should know how to do. Let's get into it.
1. Caulk and seal
Caulking might sound like a fancy term, but it's really not. It's like giving your home a cozy sweater and an umbrella at the same time. Understanding how to caulk around windows, doors, and other openings is a simple, yet effective way to improve energy efficiency and prevent water damage to your home.
Pro-tip: Choose the right caulk that suits the surfaces you're dealing with. And for exterior use, use a caulk that can withstand the elements.
Why caulking and sealing is important
When your openings aren't caulked, your home is prone to structural damage, water damage, mold infestation, and higher energy bills. Caulking creates a waterproof seal that prevents water and air from entering your home.
How to caulk and seal
- Clean the area and load the caulk. Before applying, clean the surfaces and remove any dirt, old caulk, or debris using
a putty knife or caulk removal tool. Then, load the caulk into
a caulking gun and carefully apply a thin continuous bead along the gaps or cracks. Hold the gun at a 45-degree
angle and move steadily along the surface.
- Smooth it out. Use a caulk smoothing tool or your finger dipped in soapy water to smooth the caulk and create a
neat, even finish. Wipe away any excess caulk with a
- Check for leaks. After caulking, check for any remaining
air leaks. You can do this by carefully lighting a stick of incense near the sealed area. If you notice any smoke
being drawn toward the opening, there may be gaps
that need further sealing.
- Inspect. Make sure to regularly inspect the areas to ensure they remain in good condition. Reapply caulk as needed and repair any damage promptly.
2. Change HVAC filters
Everybody loves a breath of fresh air, including your home. Swapping out your HVAC filters is like giving your system a spa day. Your air quality gets a boost, energy bills chill out, and your HVAC system can do a happy dance with a longer life span.
Why changing HVAC filters are important:
A clean filter traps dust, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens, preventing them from circulating in your home and improving air quality. It also allows the HVAC system to operate more efficiently, reducing energy consumption, and lowering utility bills.
Regularly changing your filter also prevents dust and debris from accumulating within the system and reduces wear and tear. That means an extended life span and not a surprise broken HVAC system in the future.
How to change HVAC filter
- Identify filter type. Identify the type and size of the filter your HVAC system uses. Most filters are either disposable fiberglass, pleated, or reusable/washable.
- Turn it off. Before attempting to change the filter, turn off the HVAC system. This will ensure safety and prevent the fan from drawing in dust.
- Filter access panel. Find the filter access panel, which is typically located near the return air duct, air handler, or furnace.
- Slide it out. Slide out or unclip the old filter from its housing carefully. Be cautious not to disperse accumulated dust and debris into the air.
- Inspect. Inspect the old filter to assess its condition. If it's clogged with dirt, dust, or debris, it's time for a replacement.
- Bring in the new. Install the new filter into the housing, ensuring it fits snugly and in the correct direction (the arrow on the filter should point toward the airflow).
- Close the access panel. Securely close the filter access panel, ensuring it is properly sealed to prevent air bypass.
- Regular maintenance. Set a reminder to change the filter regularly. For standard filters, it's recommended to replace them every 1 to 3 months. Washable filters should be cleaned every 1 to 2 months.
3. Patch drywall
Repairing small holes and cracks in drywall is a pretty easy task that helps maintain the integrity of your walls and keeps them looking good.
Why patching drywall is important:
Minor holes and cracks can turn into big, unappealing problems. Repairing them when they're small preserves the structural integrity of your walls and prevents extensive repairs down the road.
How to patch drywall
- Gather your materials. You will need spackling or a lightweight joint compound, a putty knife, sandpaper, and a damp cloth.
- Clean it up. Clean the area around the hole or crack to remove any dust. Use the damp cloth to wipe the surface clean.
- Spackle it. For nail holes or small dents, apply a small amount of spackling to the hole using the putty knife. Smooth it evenly, slightly overfilling the hole.
- Widen the crack. For cracks, use the putty knife to widen the crack slightly to create a V-shaped groove. This will allow the compound to adhere better. Remove any loose debris from the crack
- Push in the groove. Fill the crack with spackling (or joint compound), using the putty knife to push it into the groove. Smooth the compound along the crack, slightly overfilling it.
- Dry the area. Allow the patched area to dry completely, following the manufacturer's instructions on the compound container (it usually takes a few hours).
- Sand it down. Once dry, use fine-grit sandpaper to sand down the patched area until it is smooth and flush with the surrounding wall surface.
- Wipe the dust. Wipe away any dust from sanding with a damp cloth. Then, touch up the patched area with matching paint to blend it seamlessly with the rest of the wall.
4. Unclog drains
It's a universal fact. Nobody likes calling the plumber (sorry to all the plumbers reading this). That's why it's so important to unclog drains frequently. And sure, knowing how to unclog a drain might be an obvious task on this list, but there are a few ways to go about it and we're going to tell you.
How to unclog drains
Depending on the type of drain and the severity of the clog, these are the
best ways to fix it.
Boil water. Start by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain. This can often remove minor clogs caused by grease or soap buildup.
Plunger. Use a plunger to create a seal over the drain and give it a few
forceful pumps. This method can dislodge blockages in the pipe.
Baking soda and vinegar. Pour about half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Cover the drain with a plug or cloth
to contain the fizzing reaction. After about 30 minutes, flush the drain with
Manual removal. If you can access the clog, you may be able to manually remove it using a plumbing snake.
Chemical drain cleaners: As a last resort, you can use a chemical drain cleaner, but use them sparingly and follow the instructions carefully. These can be harsh on pipes and harmful to the environment.
Regular maintenance: To prevent future clogs, consider using drain
screens to catch debris, avoid pouring grease down the drain, and
periodically flush drains with hot water.
If your efforts don't fix it, it's best to contact a professional plumber to avoid causing further damage.
5. Unstick a door
Nobody thinks about doors until they randomly decide to stop working. And when that happens, it can be extremely annoying. A sticking door, in particular, can happen
because of temperature fluctuations, loose hardware, or shifts in the home's
foundation, impacting its alignment. It's fairly common, especially in older homes,
which is why knowing how to unstick a door is a useful skill.
Why unsticking doors is important
Sticking doors are, honestly, super annoying. Not only that, but it can cause damage to
the frame and hinges if forced open. After fixing, and the problem still persists, you
might have a larger issue like foundation settlement. It's essential to address a sticking door promptly to prevent further damage and ensure your home is stable.
How to unstick a door
Loosen hinges. If the door is sticking at the top, try tightening the upper hinge screws and loosening the lower ones slightly. If it's sticking at the bottom, do the opposite.
Trimming. If the door is rubbing against the frame, you may need to trim the
edges slightly. First, identify which part is sticking, then use a plane, sandpaper,
or a power sander to remove a small amount of material from the sticking area.
Lubricate. Apply a silicone-based lubricant or paraffin wax to the edges and
hinges to reduce friction.
Paint buildup. If layers of paint are causing the stickiness, carefully scrape away excess paint from the door edges.
6. Fix a leaky faucet
Imagine: It's 9 pm. Kids are in bed. The kitchen is clean. A candle is lit. But wait a minute - what's that sound? Drip, drip, drip...
That rhythmic drip-drip-drip seems to have a built-in timer that goes off whenever you're just trying to relax. But luckily, we're here to tell you how to easily fix this annoying nuisance.
Why it's important to fix a leaky faucet
Fixing a leaky faucet isn't just about silencing the drip; it's important for both your wallet and the environment. First things first, that tiny drip might seem harmless, but over time it can lead to a significant increase in your water bill. And that's your hard-earned money going down the drain.
Secondly, leaky faucets can cause damage to fixtures, cabinets, and even the structure of your home. Prolonged moisture exposure can lead to mold growth and deterioration, potentially requiring expensive repairs down the line.
How to fix a leaky faucet
Gather your tools. You will need a wrench, some pliers, screwdriver, a towel or cloth, a replacement washer (or O-rings), and maybe even a tiny superhero cape. Just kidding on that last one.
Shut off the water. Turn off the water supply valves. You might find a valve under the sink or near the main water line.
Remove components. Pop the faucet's cap or handle cover using a screwdriver or pliers. Unscrew the handle and any remaining components to expose the faucet's inner workings.
- Inspect. Look for the rubber washer, O-ring, or cartridge that's causing the leak.
- Replace. Using your pliers or wrench, gently remove the bad washer. You can take it to your local hardware store to find an exact replacement.
Put it all back together. If it's a washer or O-ring, swap out the old with the new. if it's a cartridge, replace it following the manufacturer's instructions. A good tip is to apply plumber's grease for a smooth operation.
Reassemble and test. Put everything back on in reverse order. Tighten everything, and turn the water supply back on. Make sure to test your hard work and confirm that the leaky faucet is fixed.
7. Clean a dryer vent
One skill you should definitely know is how to clean a dryer vent. Now, you might be thinking, "Wait, isn't that what professionals are for?" Well, yes, but trust us, having this skill up your sleeve can save you time, and money, and even keep your home safer.
Why it's important
A clogged dryer vent might seem harmless, but it's a hidden hazard. Lint, debris, and even critters can build up in there, blocking the airflow. Not only does this put a strain on your dryer, but it's also a potential fire hazard. Regularly cleaning your dryer vent not only improves its efficiency but also protects your home and loved ones.
How to clean a dryer vent
Safety first. Turn off the dryer and unplug it.
Access the vent. Disconnect the dryer vent hose from the back of the machine. Depending on your setup, you might need a screwdriver or just your hands.
Brush and vacuum. Use a vent brush or a vacuum attachment to remove lint and debris from the vent and hose. Go deep – don't just stop at the surface.
Clean the exterior vent. Head outside and locate the vent cover. Remove it and give it a good cleaning. Make sure it opens and closes smoothly.
Reconnect and test. Reattach the vent hose to your dryer. Plug it back in, and voilà! You're all set. Run a test cycle to make sure everything's working correctly.
8. Clean gutters and downspouts
One skill that should never be overlooked is cleaning gutters and downspouts. Sure, it might not sound as glamorous as redecorating your living room, but trust us, this skill is crucial for a well-maintained home.
Why cleaning gutters is important
Gutters and downspouts are your home's unsung heroes. They direct rainwater away from your foundation, preventing costly water damage and potential flooding. When they're clogged with leaves, twigs, and debris, water gets trapped, leading to all sorts of issues – from rotting wood to compromised foundations. Regular cleaning not only prevents these headaches but also extends the lifespan of your gutters.
How to clean gutters and downspouts
Gather your tools: You'll need a ladder, gloves, a trowel or scoop, a bucket, and a garden hose.
Ladder time. Place your ladder on a stable surface. Make sure it's tall enough to comfortably reach your gutters without stretching.
Scoop up the gunk. Start by removing large debris with your trowel or scoop, and putting it in your bucket. This is where your gloves come in handy – no one likes gooey, wet leaves on their hands.
Flush it out: Use your garden hose to flush the remaining dirt and debris down the downspout. Make sure the downspout is clear and the water is flowing freely.
Check the downspout: If the downspout is clogged, you might need to disassemble it and clean it separately.
Final rinse: Give your gutters and downspouts a final rinse to ensure everything's clean and flowing smoothly.
Inspect and maintain: While you're up there, take a moment to inspect your gutters for any signs of damage. Tighten loose screws and make note of any repairs needed.
When it comes to gutters, it's not just about maintaining appearances; it's about protecting your investment and ensuring your home stands strong.
9. Fix a garbage disposal that won't turn on
Understanding how to troubleshoot and fix a garbage disposal that won't turn on isn't just about convenience; it's about preventing potential disasters.
Why fixing a garbage disposal is important
A non-responsive garbage disposal isn't just only annoying; it's a warning sign that something might be wrong. Ignoring this issue could lead to clogs, leaks, or even a damaged disposal unit. By having the know-how to tackle this problem, you're taking proactive measures to maintain a well-functioning kitchen and prevent larger, costlier repairs down the road.
How to fix a garbage disposal that won't turn on
- Check the power: Check to see if the disposal is receiving power. Or check the circuit breaker or fuse box to confirm it
Press the reset button: Most garbage disposals have a red reset button located on the bottom. Press it to reset the unit and see if it starts working again.
Inspect for jams: A common cause of a stuck disposal is something jamming the impellers. Turn off the power and use a flashlight to inspect the disposal's interior.
Use the allen wrench: Most garbage disposals come with an Allen wrench for manual rotation. Insert the wrench into the bottom of the disposal and turn it to clear any blockages.
Check the overload protector: Some disposals have an overload protector that can trip if the unit overheats. Locate the reset button on the disposal and press it to reset the protector.
Test the wall switch: If your disposal is hardwired, check the wall switch to ensure it's working correctly. If it's a plug-in unit, confirm that the outlet is functioning.
Inspect wires: Turn off the power and inspect the wires to ensure they're secure. Loose or damaged wires can prevent the disposal from turning on.
Replace the motor: If none of the above steps work, it might be a faulty motor. Consult your disposal's manual or consider calling a professional for motor replacement.
Remember to always turn off the power before repairing the disposal. If you're unsure or uncomfortable with the troubleshooting process, it's best to call a professional.
10. Deal with a flooded basement
Would we be a basement waterproofing company if we didn't include this one? That might sound like a joke, but 60% of American homes deal with water intrusion in the basement so it's crucial to know what to do if you are ever put in that position. Knowing how to handle a flooded basement isn't just about saving your belongings; it's about protecting your home's structural integrity.
Why it's important to know
Time is of the essence when your basement starts flooding. Excess moisture can lead to mold growth, which poses health risks for your family and can be expensive to fix. On top of that, prolonged water exposure weakens the structural integrity of your home, putting it at risk of foundation, wall, floor, and electrical damage.
How to deal with a flooded basement
Safety first. Turn off electricity to the affected area and wear protective gear like rubber boots and gloves.
Identify the source. If possible, determine the source of the flooding and address it. It might be a burst pipe, a leaking appliance, or poor drainage outside.
Remove water. Use a wet/dry vacuum, buckets, or a sump pump to remove standing water. Begin the process as soon as possible to minimize damage.
Drying out. Once the water is removed, set up fans, dehumidifiers, and open windows to aid in drying out the area. Mold thrives in damp environments, so this step is crucial.
Sanitize and clean. Disinfect all affected surfaces with a mixture of water and bleach to prevent mold growth and bacteria.
Inspect for damage. Thoroughly examine your belongings and the basement's structure for any signs of damage. Furniture, documents, and sentimental items might need immediate attention.
Prevent future flooding. Consider installing a sump pump, sealing cracks in the foundation, and ensuring proper drainage to prevent future flooding (and shameless plug: if you need help, we're just a call away).
Transform your home
Your home is a reflection of you, and by learning these skills, you get to make sure it remains a well-maintained and inviting sanctuary for years to come. From fixing a leaky faucet to cleaning gutters, we hope you've gained the confidence to tackle common household issues head-on.