When your house starts to misbehave, it can be easy to start thinking fondly of your last landlord, who had to deal with all these logistics. But don’t fear! Many common issues in houses are easy to solve, even if you aren’t particularly handy. Here are five fast home fixes that any homeowner can tackle on their own.
Five fast home fixes
1. Shut off the water
It’s bound to happen at some point — a plumbing emergency. Whether it’s a leaky pipe or an overflowing toilet that won’t stop running, you’ll want to know how to turn off the water source for the house. Sometimes, the best we can do isn’t to FIX the problem, but to ensure it doesn’t get any worse.
To shut off all water in your house, find your water meter and then locate the main water shutoff valve. Many water meters are in front of your house, on the sidewalk, while others may be mounted on the house’s siding. Use your water meter cutoff key (if you have it) or a wrench (if you don’t) to turn the shutoff valve 90 degrees.
If you can’t find the water meter, your water company will know where it is. Call them to ask for help locating it.
2. Reset the circuit breaker
Fast home fix #2 will bring us over to your wiring and electricity. As you get used to the electrical capacity of your house’s outlets, you may overload your circuit breaker at times. To protect against fires, the overloaded circuit is “tripped,” or temporarily disabled. You’ll know when it’s happened because the power to your hair dryer (it’s always the dang hair dryer, isn’t it??) will abruptly cease and the outlet will seem broken.
Luckily, resetting the circuit breaker is very, very simple. Just head to your utility box and open it up. In most cases, it should be pretty easy to see which switch has been tripped — it’s the one in the “OFF” position, while all the others are in the “ON” position. Simply flick it to match the others, and you should be good to go.
Of course, if you have an older home that’s on a fuse box, resetting your power will be a little trickier, but not impossible. Here’s a great step-by-step guide.
3. Change the furnace filter
If you have a furnace, get familiar with furnace filters. Changing a furnace filter couldn’t be easier. Just take the old one out and insert the new one. Depending on the age and condition of your furnace, replace the filter monthly or every 2-3 months.
Family Handyman recommends labeling your filters in advance, by the month, so you never have to guess when the last filter change happened (or when you’re due for the next one).
4. Cleaning out your gutters
We are lucky enough to have four full seasons here in New Jersey, which means that there are plenty of ways for debris to gather in your gutters. From fall leaves to winter snow and ice to spring and summer storms, it’s critical that you keep your gutters free and clear of buildup. Experts recommend checking your gutters at least twice a year, but it’s not a bad idea to do it seasonally.
To complete this fast home fix, hop up on a stable ladder, wearing long sleeves and work gloves. Inspect the gutters for any structural damage and then get to work, removing the leaves and debris so that water can run freely through them. If you’re worried about the gutter gunk getting on your lawn or patio, put a tarp down under the ladder.
5. Reset your downspouts
Next, see that long stretch of gutter that runs from the ground out into your yard? Those are the downspouts and they’re super important. Their job is to help runoff drain into your yard, far away from your home’s foundation.
After your gutters are clean, double check that the downspouts are connected to the main part of your gutters, and that they are directing water away from the structure of your home. And of course, if any are missing or cracked, be sure to replace them immediately.
P.S. Not sure you can handle this? It’s okay, fixing up house stuff isn’t for everyone! Give me a ring if you’d prefer to hire my most trusted handymen, plumbers, electricians and more.