In life, there are some things that should always be left to the professionals … hair colour, surgery, the people who install breaks in cars. The same is true of your home; you shouldn’t be putting on a new roof if you’ve never wielded a hammer. But there are some tasks that you can learn to do, so you don’t have to call in the pros. Just a few DIY fundamentals that will save you money and make you feel like ‘Homeowner of the Year’.
UNCLOGGING A SINK
For females this is a big one! No matter how diligent a woman is, wayward strands of hair ultimately find themselves dancing down the drain and meeting up with their friends, causing one heck of a nasty clog. Sound familiar? Well don’t reach for the chemicals or the plumber’s number just yet. Try giving these three easy techniques a try:
- Fill the sink with water and plunge with a plunger. You can direct pressure at the clog by stuffing the sink’s overflow hole with a wet cloth.
- If the clog proves plunge-proof, try popping out the drain stopper by unscrewing the nut at the back of the drain pipe and retracting the pivot rod. Then try extracting the hairy mess with the curved part of a wire coat hanger.
- Still nothing? Remove the P-trap (the U-shaped part of the pipe) with a set of pliers. Make sure you have a bowl ready to capture any nastiness! If the blockage isn’t in the trap, feed a pipe snake into the stub-out or portion of the drain pipe that goes into your wall.
EXTRACTING A STRIPPED SCREW
Stripping a screw is really easy. Extracting a stripped screw is really annoying. But it is doable. The first thing you need to do is switch tools. If you stripped the screw using a drill, grab a conforming screwdriver and a hammer. Tap the tip of the screwdriver into the head of the screw; then push down as hard as you can and slowly back out the screw. Ta da! You rock!
FIXING A POPPED FLOOR NAIL
Chances are your favourite pair of socks will notice a popped floor nail before you do, and the encounter won’t be kind. In order to get rid of that bad boy permanently, pry it out with vise-grip locking pliers. Sink a trim screw (similar in length to the extracted nail) in the hole and cover with a dab of wood filler.
REPLACING A BROKEN TILE
When replacing a broken tile, the first thing you need to do is remove the surrounding grout. You do this with a carbide-tipped scraper … how awesome does that sound? Using painter’s tape, cover the edges of the adjacent tiles, so they don’t get damaged. Then drill evenly-spaced holes into the broken tile with a ¼-inch masonry bit; this will free the tile from the substrate. Working from the center out, gently tap out the tile pieces with a hammer and a narrow tile chisel. You should also clear away any old thinset. Coat the back of the replacement tile and the substrate with thinset, and push the tile into place. You’ll need to let this dry overnight before grouting.
CURING A LOOSE HINGE
Trying to tighten a loose hinge by cranking the screw back into its original hole isn’t likely to work. For the best results, you need to shrink the hole. If you’re repairing the hinge on a cabinet door, remove the screw and plug the hole with a toothpick dipped in carpenter’s glue. When the glue is dry, snap the toothpick flush with the surface, and reinsert the same screw. If your loose hinge is on a door, start by wedging a piece of wood under the bottom outside corner of the door. Unscrew and swing the loose hinge leaf to the side. You’ll need to bore out the stripped hole with a