10 DIY Home Repairs That Save You Money


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There are many advantages to owning a home but paying for repairs isn't one of them. By some estimates, homeowners spend one to four percent of a home's value on maintenance and repairs every year. That's as much as $500 a month for a house worth $150,000. You can reduce that cost by learning how to handle common repairs and maintenance projects yourself.


If your dryer isn't working as well as it used to, you may have lint in the vent that's restricting airflow. Jody Lamb of RepairClinic.com, an online replacement part store, says you can clean out the dryer's ventilation system with a dryer vent cleaning brush that costs less than $40. If the dryer isn't spinning or heating at all, you may need a new thermal fuse. A new fuse costs about $20 and takes half an hour to replace.


While electrical work can be tricky, replacing faulty light fixtures and switches is often a simple enough task for amateurs. Home Depot and Lowe's both have helpful videos online that will walk you through the process safely. Installing new energy efficient lighting has the added benefit of saving money.


Judy Crocket works for her husband's interior painting company in Manistee, Mich. On one job, an electrician had moved a few outlets in a home and left holes in the wall. The homeowner wasn't able to find a drywaller willing to do such a small job and the Crockets couldn't paint until the holes were patched. Crocket told Cheapism that after a bit of studying and asking for help at the local hardware store, she and her husband were able to patch the holes themselves. It was easy enough to do that she recommends homeowners learn this skill as well.


Crocket shared a few DIY tips for painting projects. Although it can be time consuming, prep work is the key to a professional finish. Be sure to scrape imperfections on the walls with a putty knife, wash to remove dust, and vacuum ducts, electrical boxes, and floors before starting to paint. Take your time and watch for drips as you go.


>When caulk begins to deteriorate or discolor, it needs to be replaced. Removing old caulk is usually the most laborious part of the job, but special caulk removal tools ($5-$15) make it easier. Pre-shaped caulk strips ($4-$6) that are pressed into place make installing new caulk a snap.


Small and usually hidden away, sump pumps prevent flooding in basements and crawl spaces. John O'Brien, a lawyer from Chicago with experience doing his own home repairs, told Cheapism he was surprised how easy the pump is to replace. A new pump cost $120 and all he needed to disconnect the old pump and install a new one was a screwdriver and a pipe.


A faucet with a drip is annoying, wasteful, and costly. Often a failing washer is to blame. The repair involves taking apart the faucet using a screwdriver and pliers. Check the manufacturer's website to find out what type of replacement washer you need to buy and turn to YouTube for instructional videos. Washers can be found at hardware stores for less than $2 each, and sets of assorted washers cost about $7.


Like a leaky faucet, a leaky pipe under your sink often can be addressed without calling a professional. Generally, you'll just need a new washer or nut, but in some cases the entire p-trap (the curved section) will need to be replaced. A local hardware store will have what you need for $5 to $15, depending if you're using plastic or metal parts. Be sure to turn off the water flowing to the sink before taking anything apart.


A clogged drain is never fun but when there's a disposal involved things can get a bit scary. With a bit of preparation, though, a homeowner can make the repair herself. Kathryn Lagden in Burlington, Ont., says that after watching an instructional video on YouTube, all she needed to clear her clogged disposal was an Allen wrench, a flashlight, tongs, and 15 minutes. She says she has limited experience with DIY home repairs, although recently she's been watching more instructional videos and has since fixed her vacuum, laptop, and dishwasher without hiring a professional.


Ceiling fans provide year-round comfort and savings. Once you pick the correct size fan for the room, installing a fan is much like replacing a light fixture. Ceiling fans can cost thousands of dollars, but basic models can be found in the $30-$250 range. You may need to install a new electrical box that can handle the weight and vibration from the fan ($5-$15).

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