Three Easy Do-It-Yourself Home Repairs

Replace a Light Fixture, Fix a Leaking Toilet, and Do Your Own Tile

More and more women are donning a tool belt and trying to do more home improvement projects on their own before calling a handyman. More women are becoming first-time homebuyers and enjoy doing the projects themselves, which saves them time and money, and increases the equity in their home. Before you call a handyman, contractor, or electrician, research how to do the repairs yourself. Here we will talk about a few simple repairs that can be done with just time and hard work.

If you need to replace a light fixture, you will first need to shop for a new fixture that has a base the same width or wider than your old one to prevent repairing the ceiling after replacing the fixture. If the new fixture is heavier than the old one or you are replacing it with a ceiling fan, make sure that the electrical box is equipped to support it. Usually, an electrical box with No. 10-24 sized screws will be fine to accommodate a fan or heavy chandelier. Make sure to always turn off the switch and circuit breaker to the light that you are replacing, and test the wires from the wall or ceiling with an electrical tester. To replace the fixture, use a wire stripper to remove about half an inch of the protective insulation from the wire ends of the new fixture. Unscrew the light bulb and the old light fixture, and lower it so you can reach the wires. Without letting the wires touch, unscrew the wire nuts connecting them. Usually, there will be a black (hot), white (neutral) and green (or bare copper) wire. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the fixture which will usually only involve twisting the matching colored copper fibers of the new wire ends with those from the ceiling or wall. Twist on the wire nuts tight enough so they don’t fall off. Fold up the wires and push them back into the ceiling box. Screw your new fixture into place.

Most toilet problems are caused by leaks in the fill valve or flush valve. You may notice your toilet running periodically or flushing on its own. Don’t fret. These are easy and relatively cheap to repair. First, you need to diagnose the problem. Drop a few drops of dark food coloring into the tank. Wait for about 10 minutes. If the water has color, the problem is probably with the flush valve. If not, the problem is most likely with the flush valve. First, shut off the water supply to the toilet located on the wall near the toilet. Drain the toilet by flushing a few times. Use a towel to sop up extra water. To replace your valves, inspect the flapper to see if it needs to be realigned. Flappers need to be replaced every five years. If your flapper is damaged, pull it loose and put a new one at the hinges of the overflow tube. If the fill valve is leaking, take it off by disconnecting the mounting nut. Make sure to have replacement parts suitable for the toilet’s make and model. If you don’t, the parts won’t fit correctly and the toilet will continue to leak. If your toilet is still leaking after replacing the valves, the water may be passing through hairline cracks in the tank. In this case, your tank will need to be replaced. If water is leaking from the toilet base, replace the wax ring at the base of your toilet. With pliers, disconnect the water supply tube from the bottom of the toilet and the mounting bolts. Lift the toilet and put the new wax ring over the mounting ring on the floor. Put the toilet back, and sit on it, rocking back and forth so the new wax ring will flatten to the toilet. Put the new mounting bolts on and turn on the water supply to the toilet.

Laying your own tile will save you money but is very time-consuming. First, decide on your tile design and adhesive. If you are tiling your kitchen, bathroom, or pool deck, get a textured tile that will provide water and slip resistance. First, start with a smooth, flat surface. Remove old tile by chipping away at the grout first and then breaking the loose tile. To protect yourself from the sharp pieces of chipped tile, wear protective clothing, gloves, and safety glasses. One the tile is removed, use a razor scraper and hot water to remove the old adhesive. Take off the baseboard trim, appliances, and toilet if you are tiling in the bathroom. Start at the front entranceway or hallway or areas that aren’t hidden with furniture. When tiling a hallway that is perpendicular to an adjoining tiled room, start at the intersection of those two areas. Plan the layout of your tile using a chalk line as your guide. Tiles are cut with a score and snap or a wet saw. Wet saws let you do L-shaped cuts. Scores and snaps will do straight cuts. Try to make as few cuts as possible with properly adjusting the layout of your tile. To get the tile glued down, mix a half-bucket of adhesive at a time to keep it from drying out. With a notched trowel, spread an even coat of adhesive, enough for 1-4 tiles at a time. Follow the chalk lines and lay the tiles into place without sliding them. Use spaces to keep the tiles aligned and remove excess adhesive if needed. After the tiled area is completely dry, fill in the spaces between the tiles with grout. Remove the spacers and clean out any adhesive in the grout lines with a scraper or bristle brush. Use a rubber trowel to apply the grout and wipe off excess with a damp sponge. Apply sealer to the grout after it has dried completely.


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