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Functional Repairs for the DIYer

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Functional Repairs for the DIYer

When it comes to home repairs, there’s a lot that you can do to avoid calling in a professional. While you shouldn’t attempt to rewire your home, fix the air conditioner, or run plumbing lines, you can repair and remodel many things without a license. If you like to DIY, you’ve come to the right spot. We’ve got a few ideas to fill your handyman heart with joy.

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Tools of the Trade

Before we get to the repairs, take the time to gather your tools. A basic home tool set should have everything you need to get started. Most include a hammer, wrenches, ratchets, pliers, and a tape measure. You may also need a level, drill and drill bits, and safety glasses. If you plan to work up high, make sure you have a sturdy ladder that will support your weight.

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Common Home Repairs

Inside and outside, there are many small maintenance projects that you can do today to save yourself a lot of headaches and money later.

One of the most common complaints among new homeowners is that the HVAC system doesn’t feel quite right. Sometimes, the air drags and doesn’t make its way to all the rooms it supplies. At other times, it might cause dust to fly through the air. Both of these issues may be as simple to fix as changing the filter. Most systems have a standard size, but if you have an unusual setup or only a small area for the return vent, you might need to find a custom filter. Even a quarter inch off can affect the efficiency of the unit, so make sure your filter fits.

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Cleaning the gutters is another reasonably easy maintenance task; however, like changing your HVAC filter, it is essential. Clogged gutters won’t drain water away when it rains, which can put your home at risk of flooding or water intrusion. To clean the gutters, use a ladder to climb to the roof; you’ll want to stand about chest level to the gutters. With gloved hands, remove the debris and then rinse the gutter with a garden hose. Mr. Handyman notes that a second person should be present to steady the ladder and turn the water on.

If you notice issues with the roof while you’re up there, keep the ladder handy. Minor roofing repairs can be handled with little experience, assuming you’re comfortable with heights and your roof has a low pitch. Stick with repairs that don’t require changes to the sub-roof, such as replacing shingles or cleaning algae from asphalt shingles. Wear slip-resistant shoes and add footers to the roof or wear a safety harness, as a wet surface can be slippery.

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Once you come down from the roof, you can turn your attention to inside the home. In addition to looking unseemly, loose carpeting can also be a trip hazard. Loose carpeting seems overwhelming to deal with but is actually not that difficult if you don’t mind hard work. To re-stretch sagging carpet, clear the room of all furniture, then pull the edges of the carpet from the floor from three sides. You’ll need a carpet stretcher, which you can pick up at your local hardware store. Bob Villa’s Jennifer Noonan walks you through the full process here.

Loose carpet is a hazard, but it’s not the only things in the house that can wiggle out of place. The doors and drawers of the kitchen cabinets can, as well, and that becomes a major annoyance. Sometimes, a minor hinge adjustment can make the doors open and shut like new. Likewise, a little WD-40 on sticking drawers can go a long way toward kitchen cabinet comfort.

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There’s no reason to shy away from DIY projects. But remember, some things are best left to the pros, and if you aren’t comfortable making any repair, don’t do it. It’s better to outsource than to wind up footing the bill to fix any damage you might cause on top of the original repairs.

Written by: Rob Woods,

Are you a DIY enthusiast with skills and advice you want to share with others? Write your own tutorial and have it featured on Functional Rustic by emailing Sarah at Not ready to teach others? Learn new skills, meet other DIY enthusiasts and sell your handmade creations by joining DIY Projects of Facebook.

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DIY or a Pro? 4 Questions You Should Know

You are an enthusiastic weekend warrior. From landscaping to painting, laying updated flooring to installing a new toilet, you have some pretty impressive home improvement skills. But, on occasion, even you have to admit there are some times where you have bitten off a bit more than you can chew. So, how do you know when to take on a home project and when to leave it to the professionals? Even if you have the know-how, what you save in expenses might just cost you in time. Here are four questions you can ask to help you decide: do it yourself or a hire a professional?

DIY or a Pro? How much can you afford to spend?

How much can I afford to spend?

This question is hard to answer without knowing your specific project. However, a little research is all it takes to get an estimate rolling around in your head. For instance, hiring a professional to build a new deck in your backyard can run anywhere from $2,500 to as much as $24,000, depending on size and materials. If you have some interior upgrades in mind, a professional can handle these sorts of projects from anywhere between $750 to $2500. And if you need a professional to tackle a major air conditioning repair, you could spend between $600 and $1900, depending on the age of the unit and the kind of repairs needed. Weigh these costs against your estimates for completing the project on your own to decide if DIY is the smarter choice.

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If cost is the main factor in whether to hire a professional, don’t forget the costs that you might be facing outside of the project. For example, you may need to rent a storage unit to protect some of your furniture and belongings during major construction. Over the last 180 days, the
average cost to rent a self-storage unit in Sterling Heights, Michigan is $109.00. Or, in the case of kitchen home improvement projects, you may have to order take out instead of cooking for a few nights. And if a plumbing, electrical, or construction DIY projects hits a few snags, you may need to factor in a hotel stay for a night or two, as well.

DIY or a Pro? Is this a skill I can learn?

Do I know how to do this? If not, is it easy to learn?

Just because you have never tiled a bathroom floor doesn’t mean you can’t do it yourself. There are plenty of free tutorials on YouTube and step-by-step instructions all over the internet. However, will the costs you save doing this project yourself outweigh the time it takes to learn the new skill, the cost of purchasing materials and equipment, and the risk that something might go wrong? To help you make this decision, get a few quotes from professionals who can handle the job. Ask your friends or your neighbors for recommendations and make a few calls.

DIY or a Pro? What if I make mistakes or get frustrated?

What happens if I get frustrated or make a mistake?

Whether you are capable of doing this project isn’t the question. We know that — for you — when there’s a will there’s a way. But on the off chance that something does go wrong, what will happen? For example, if you’re installing new countertops in the kitchen, how will the rest of your family feel if the project takes longer than expected? When they can’t cook or prepare food for several days or even weeks, will that cast a shadow over the household? Next you’ll want to consider your mental state. If you’re the sort of DIY devotee who enjoys a project from start to finish, you might feel frustrated, stressed or even guilty if something goes wrong. Hiring a professional means you can let go of all those concerns.

Is this a common repair or a complex remodel?

A minor repair — replacing a leaking faucet or a squeaky floorboard — can take you at most an afternoon. A complicated project, like replacing the pipe in your bathroom or widening your doorways, requires planning and process where you might need new tools, extra hands or even a few permits. When the projects become complicated like this — building a detached garage or transforming an unfinished basement into a game room — a professional can come in handy. They know what’s waiting around the corner. They have the tools needed, the licenses and permits required, and the experience to understand how to make your vision a reality.

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Maybe the project required a little more knowledge and skill than you originally thought. Maybe you didn’t have the right tools or enough time. It happens to enthusiastic homeowners all the time. Arming yourself with the pros and cons of hiring a professional can help you make the right decision about how to tackle your next big home improvement project.

Written By: Ray Flynn

Are you a DIY enthusiast with skills and advice you want to share with others? Write your own tutorial and have it featured on Functional Rustic by emailing Sarah at Not ready to teach others? Learn new skills, meet other DIY enthusiasts and sell your handmade creations by joining DIY Projects of Facebook.