Most women of our generation have grown up believing that household repairs were solely the domain of men, but in reality, there’s no reason why we can’t do them, too. If you are looking for an alternative way to empower yourself at 50, being more familiar with certain DIY issues might be a great chance to keep learning (and will save you some money in the long run).
Becoming your own handyperson involves learning the basics of how your home is built, investing in quality tools and practising until you achieve a basic skill set.
Consider buying a multiheaded screwdriver set, an Allen keys set, a hammer, pliers, tape measure, torch, spirit level, adjustable crescent wrench to get the ball rolling. Also, have a thought about your toolbox: too small and you won’t be able to put the extra tools you buy over the years. Too big and you won’t be able to lift it! Alternatively, you can cut through the treacle and buy a multi-piece toolset which allows you to choose what level of DIY you intend to reach.
Depending on the project, you’ll find a range of videos targeting how to fix everything from a faulty sink to replacing a garbage disposal. Bear in mind that you won’t learn this new skill overnight and it will probably be very frustrating and difficult to start with. In addition to the content available on YouTube, websites like HomeTipsForWomen and The Family Handyman, Hometalk, Terry Love Plumbing and Remodel DIY and Professional Forum, podcasts like Fix It Home Improvement and Fix It 101 have solid followings. A bestseller like Dare to Repair: A Do-It-Herself Guide to Fixing (Almost) Anything in the Home by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas Tenent is also a great resource to start with.
What’s more, Family Handyman DIY University allows people to take quick classes to learn things like how to buy and use a table saw, or how to drill into materials like wood or masonry (each class can be completed in one to three hours, and the fee is less than $20).
Joining a club and meeting like-minded people with similar problems may be an even better solution as it shows you that you’re not the only one with these issues and helps build up your confidence. It also helps you to physically get to grips with these new skills allowing you to practice in a safe environment teaching you exactly how to fix, repair or replace, what tools you’ll need, what their names are, where to get them plus shortcuts you can use if you’re pushed for time.
Dare to fix it
Let’s face it, DIY issues can be annoying. However, learning some useful things and getting some handy tips may help you survive life’s little dramas. Here at CrunchyTales, we’ve listed some of the most common problems we should learn to fix by ourselves.
First, have a look at the water hose connected to the back of the machine — the leak is most likely due to a small crack in the rubber which has probably perished over time. If so, you’ll need to replace the hose promptly, before a major crack occurs. Remember to turn off the water supply (so you won’t come home to a flood) before you go and buy a new hose at a hardware or DIY store. To install it, put some old towels on the floor to catch any surplus standing water, unscrew and remove the old one from the wall then washing machine, next screw the new hose in and tighten it firmly with a wrench.
A small dent in your wall is annoying at any time and if not attended to quickly will soon turn into a large gaping hole. You have to act quickly. Ensure that the surface to be filled is clean from any debris and dry. Then, gently brush away any loose or powdery material. Next, using fine sandpaper, gently sand the surface and remove any sharp edges. Finally, wipe away with a dry soft cloth any of the sanding dust.
Now you’re ready to fill in the dent with either quick setting drywall compound or spackle, remembering that spackle takes on average one hour to dry and you could be sanding your wall sooner than imagined. Another note about spackle is that it doesn’t shrink as much as joint compound. Once dry and after a light sanding, your wall is ready to paint.
Blocked sinks tend to be one of the most common plumbing issues. Soap or fat are often the main culprits and pouring, several kettles of boiling water down the sink can help to clear it by dissolving the blockage. Remember, never pour boiling water into PVC pipes as this will certainly damage them. An alternative could be pouring baking soda into your drain, then follow this up with a good splash of white vinegar. Ultimately, you may have to consider trying a commercial Caustic cleaner or the old faithful plunger.
If your toilet won’t stop flushing, remove the cistern lid to locate the problem area. Ensure the water level remains at the waterline. If it’s below this, then make sure that the water valve is fully on. Do this by simply adjusting it and the water should slowly fill up in the tank.
Another very common cause is the flapper being stuck open not totally covering the valve. In this case, try reaching into the cistern and closing the flapper. If the chain attached is tangled, it will not close properly. The best thing to do is simply untangle the chain manually. Lowering the float will help lower the cistern’s water level and so prevent it from rising too high. Keep an eye on the water level there as it shouldn’t be any more than an inch below the overflow pipe. Make sure the float itself is not filled with water. If so then replace it. Flush the toilet again to ensure the running has stopped.
Now, you might wonder why you should do everything by yourself when you could count on professionals? Well, we believe that just as learning how to save for and finance a home is important to financial literacy, educating yourself on how to maintain your home will not only give you a sense of mastery but can also help you save money on repairs. And you’ll have a better idea of when you need to call a professional.