47 Home Repair Skills You Need to Survive Homeownership

6. How to Check for Termites

How to check for termites around your home

For starters, crawl under your house and REMOVE every piece of scrap, anything from under your house and inspect it. Educate yourself on what to look for. If the termites want a specific piece of wood in your floor bad enough, they will form a large mound and construct their own chimney and scurry up the inside to get to it. Examine them for embossed, branchlike tubes that, when shattered open, disclose cream-colored or yellowish insects. Also, check where siding meets the foundation for speckle sized feces or small masses of dirt next to pinholes. If you spot even one, you need a licensed and bonded exterminator to kill those wood destroying insects. If you discover termites in one area, odds are, they’re everywhere in your home.

7. How to Unclog a Sink

how to unclog a sink - kitchen or bath

You could attempt a tool called a plumber’s helper, or a plunger. Go ahead and unstop the sink with that, and see if it works. Next you can try and get a bucket and place it under the P trap beneath the sink and loosen the nuts and pull the trap off and see if you can find the problem there.

If your sink is still clogged, while you have it taken apart, go to the hardware store and get a hand-snake (or makeshift coat wire hanger) and fish it through the drain line and begin attempting to dislodge the stoppage, again.

If all else fails, get that fancy smartphone out and locate the nearest plumber and pay the bill.

8. Hire a Handyman

how to hire a handyman

The local hardware store is a good place to start your search for a reputable handyman. The employees behind the counter know who’s buying supplies for paid jobs. Also ask other homeowners who they call and how the job turned out.

You should also steer clear of any handyman who declines to provide a guarantee for the price of a job or requests for payment upfront. Reputable handymen don’t anticipate getting paid before the project is finished.

9. Prolong a Light bulb’s Life


I don’t mean by refusing to turn on the light like your father to save on the electric bill. Did you just hear the sound of yet another light bulb blowing out?

Sockets do go bad from the expansion and contraction of heat released from the bulb, but there are a few things you can do safely while also saving money. The first remedy (with the fixture unplugged or the circuit breaker switched off) is to apply a small amount of rubbing Alcohol around the base of the bulb and the tip of the connector to clean off residue or buildup. This often solves the problem of lights blowing and it also helps to unscrew them later down the road.

The second suggestion is to buy florescent replacement bulbs. They last longer, burn less electricity and emit less heat while giving the same candlepower as the older bulbs.

Try the Alcohol first, then the florescent lights if the Alcohol does not work. If they go bad you probably need to renew the sockets, or call an electrician.

10. Get a Plumber to Show Up on a Holiday

how to call for emergency plumbers

Nobody likes to work on a holiday, well, unless their name is Scrooge, but even he had a change of heart after three annoying visits from concerned acquaintances. So if you’re in dire need of an emergency plumber, you better expect to up the tip ante, or nonchalantly bring up how you have a large bottle of aged whiskey in your liquor cabinet that you can’t seem to find a home for. Otherwise, your holiday guests may have to walk on wet carpeting from that flood. Remember, they’re interrupting their holiday to make yours better.

11. How to Remove a Stripped Screw

how to remove a stripped screw

Are you the victim of sloppy handy work? Did you over estimate how far down the screw needed to go? And now you have a problem with a stripped screw – try using a rubber-band to remove the screw…

Needle nose pliers will be your handy-tool in this scenario as well. Although tedious, but you have to handle this job slowly otherwise you could end up breaking other parts if not careful. You just want to wiggle the screw out enough to wrap the pliers around the head of the screw. Another way is to use a good manual screwdriver if it was a power drill that put too much pressure on the screw.

12. How to Avoid Stripping a Screw

Avoid stripping a screw with a power drill

There are two problems that cause stripped screws. One is of low quality tools. The other, more likely problem is a collection of operator issues. The most common mistake is working too fast. The faster you wrench, the faster you strip. Other problems include turning wrenches at an angle, using the wrong size wrenches, and over-tightening screws. Sloppy tool-work is what causes most stripped screws. These mistakes combined with cheap quality wrenches are almost guaranteed to strip a screw.
*Pro Tip – Adjust the clutch to a lower setting if you’re using a cordless power drill…

13. How to Remove the Base of a Broken Light Bulb

how to remove a broken lightbulb

Try this first..

With the power OFF first (if you can’t decide which circuit the fixture is on, turn off ALL circuits), put down a tarp to catch any remaining broken glass from the old bulb. Leather gloves are preferred if you have to touch the broken bulb base. Make sure to wear eye protection goggles, largely important if you are working on an overhead fixture. Now, using both hands, push the pliers in as deep into the broken base as you possibly can.

Spread the handles apart, exerting force against the sides of the bulb base with the tips of the pliers, and rotate counterclockwise (the pliers, I mean).

Continue turning until the base is out. If you meet resistance, turn base back in slightly and then back out. The idea is to remove the broken bulb base, not break the fixture.

…Hot potato, hot potato anyone? Cut a potato in half, push it into the bulb base, and twist it out.

*Important-Stop over tightening your light bulbs!

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  1. Awesome tips for new homeowners. I stumbled upon this site after buying a ” fixer upper” and love the tips given. Or was it the image of the cute cat pawing at the faucet? Either way, nice tips and I will make sure to implement them into my new house.

    My hubby will be ecstatic that I’m taking the iniative to home repairs!!

    Any tips about conquering linenoleom floors? (Sp?)

    • Thanks and I’m glad to have helped in some way 🙂 And yes, I can put Lineoleom flooring into a future post..

  2. You never ever use WD-40 in a lock as suggested in #5 unless you intend to replace the lock. WD-40 is not a lubricant, is displaces moisture or water. Using WD-40 ensures you that the lock will be gummed up in the future. Graphite is the way to go.

    • You’re right to a point. However, by the time your lock seizes up, don’t you think it’s time to replace? Furthermore, most people have WD-40 kicking around and want to get into their house fast until they can call a locksmith.

  3. Anything you take apart, use your fancy phone to take pictures along the way so you’ll know how it’s supposed to go back together.

    • Great tips, Laura. In fact, as a contractor myself, I do this a lot. It’s a perfect way to remember each and every step in case sh** goes bad : )

  4. when drilling tile ,to avoid having the bit wander first take a glass cutter and place the wheel at the point you want to drill apply some pressure and just spin the tool a few times and it will score through the glaze giving you an exact starting point for your drill bit never fails, BILL the handyman

  5. I have an almond colored Roman style bathtub with a small hairline crack. We’ve had it tested for leaks and there are none. Any idea on how to make it less obvious…like invisible?

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