By Josh Deakin

Purchasing your first home is an exciting investment that can also seem overwhelming. If something needs to be repaired, there isn’t a landlord to call. Keeping this in mind, it can be fun to work on your own home. Here are a few common problems — and simple solutions — to keep things running smoothly.

Fixing a Running Toilet

When a toilet starts to run nonstop, your water bill is in serious danger of skyrocketing. More than likely, your running toilet is due to a damaged or worn-out flapper or a fill valve. The first thing you will need to do is diagnose the problem by removing the lid to the toilet tank and taking a look. If the water is constantly rising and flowing into the overflow tube, the problem is most likely the flush valve. If it’s running on and off but not flowing enough to hit the overflow tube, it’s probably the flapper.

The flush valve can be adjusted with a basic screwdriver. Turn the screwdriver counterclockwise on the spine that’s near the side fill valve to lower the float cup. This will lower the water level so it doesn’t reach the overflow tube.

To replace a flapper, you’ll need to shut off your water and flush the toilet a few times to ensure all water has drained from the tank. With a dry tank, you’ll be able to examine the flapper and remove it from the fixtures inside as well as the chain connecting the flapper to the flush handle. Once the old flapper is free, you can attach a new one. You’ll need to adjust the chain to the new flapper to ensure that there is a proper seal to prevent running water.

Unclogging a Sink

A clogged sink can be a smelly problem that nobody wants to experience. Instead of going for the Drano at your local supermarket, consider alternatives that are easier on your pipes. A plunger small enough to fit the drain and a drain snake are a few low-cost items that can assist in unclogging a drain just as well as the chemical compositions. After the clog is removed, pour a cup of baking soda in the drain. Immediately follow this with four cups of boiling hot water and finally adding a cup of vinegar. This will cause a chemical reaction to knock free any remaining fragments of the clog, as well as give the drain a clean smell.

Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts

Clogged gutters can cause a lot of problems for home, such as water damage to your roof and possible leaking throughout your home. Luckily, preventing a clogged gutter is an easy task to accomplish. It’s best practice to do so twice a year, in the fall before the snow comes and in the spring when the winter’s melting away. You’ll need a few tools to get the job done, including a ladder, a hose with running water, and probably some work gloves as it’ll most likely be a fairly messy affair. To start, position your ladder near a downspout and start removing any pieces of rubbish that have gotten stuck in the gutter. This could be anything from leaves or branches from nearby trees to other dirt and grime that has been lodged up in the gutter from wind and storms. Once the gutter is clear, use your hose to clean out the dirt that may be stuck on the gutter. This will also help determine if your downspout is clogged. If the water isn’t flowing out of the other end, you may need to remove the downspout and clean it out. For really clogged areas, you can use a handheld snake to retrieve the blockages. It’s also important to remember proper ladder safety when cleaning your gutter. 

Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

Cleaning your refrigerator coils properly is essential to preserving the life of your refrigerator and save you lots of money in repairs, as well as an emergency trip to the appliance store to buy a new one. Refrigerators work constantly to keep your food at a proper temperature to prevent spoilage and as such, the components are constantly running. A refrigerator with unclean coils makes it work harder than it needs to and thus shortens the longevity of the appliance. If you have pets, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on this as shedded hair can pile up under and behind the fridge. The coils will be located either on the back of the fridge or underneath, and cleaning them is as simple as using a vacuum hose attachment to clear them of hair and other grime that may accumulate in a typical day. It’s overlooked but it’s essential to maintaining your fridge.

Cleaning Grout

If you have tile in your home, and chances are you do, you’ll want to keep an eye on it regularly to keep it clean. Bathrooms are notorious for having brown and black streaks in between tiles. Your instinct will be to go at it with the most severe components you can find, but be careful. Grout is fragile and bleach can cause it to crumble. Your best bet is to start with regular water and a firm brush. If this doesn’t do the trick, you can try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar with brushing. If the stain is too deep, you may need to replace the grout completely by removing the damaged pieces and replacing it with a new mix. The materials for this can be found at any local hardware store and is relatively easy to complete.

These are just a few common household problems that are easy to fix for a new homeowner with the right tools and advice. For more complex issues, consult your local hardware store for proper solutions. If the problems are too advanced, the best solution may be to contact a professional in that field.

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