Try these 5 DIY home repairsNot every household snafu requires a professional. In fact, with a little elbow grease and some know-how, you can fix common breakdowns before they turn into expensive disasters.
1. A Leaky Washing Machine
If you ignore it: You could end up with a flood in the laundry room.
Easy fix: Check the water hoses connected to the back of the machine - the leak is most likely coming from a small crack in the rubber. If so, you'll need to replace the faulty hose immediately, before a major break occurs. Turn off the water supply (so you won't come home to a flood) and buy a new hose at a hardware store. To install it, unscrew and remove the old hose, then screw the new one in and tighten it with a wrench.
Pro tip: Buy steel braided hoses - they're more expensive but also more durable, says Raymond P. VinZant, master plumber for Roto-Rooter.
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2. Mold Spots on the Walls
If you ignore them: You could develop allergies and other health problems.
Easy fix: Remove the fungi with a mixture of 1 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of warm water. Scrub the area thoroughly, then rinse with clean water. When the spot is dry, repaint. (If the problem is widespread, consult an expert.)
Pro tip: Consider using a mildew-resistant latex paint to help prevent further growth, says Erik Neighbour, owner of EC Handyman in Sacramento, California.
3. A Running Toilet
If you ignore it: You'll waste gallons of water (and have to pay the bill).
Easy fix: Lift off the tank's lid and take a look. If water is overflowing into the vertical tube, you'll need to lower the water level in the tank. To do so, simply bend the arm on the float downward or, in newer models, squeeze the adjustment clips and slide the float down. If the water level isn't the problem, add a little food coloring to the tank and wait about 20 minutes. A change in color in the toilet bowl means the flapper - a rubber diaphragm at the bottom of the tank - is leaking and needs to be replaced. Turn off the water supply behind the toilet and pop out the flapper with your hands. Take it to a hardware store and ask for a replacement. The new one should pop back in the same way.
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4. Cracks in the Driveway
If you ignore them: The cracks will get bigger and will be harder to repair. If they're near the house, moisture may seep into your foundation.
Easy fix: Remove loose debris and spray the area with a hose. Apply a crack filler designed for asphalt and let it dry thoroughly.
Pro tip: If cracks are deep, fill them with sand, then use the filler for the last 1/4 inch, says David Gross, a handyman in Valparaiso, Indiana.
5. A Dent in the Wall
If you ignore it: The plaster in and near the broken spot will crumble, eventually creating a larger hole that you'll have to call a carpenter or painter to repair.
Easy fix: Wedge a wad of newspaper into the dent, leaving about a 1/4-inch gap between the paper and the rim of the hole. Use a putty knife to fill the gap with joint compound (available at any hardware store), then smooth it with the blade. Let the compound dry for 24 hours, then paint over the spot. (Depending on location and color, you may need to repaint the whole wall.)
Pro tip: If the joint compound creates a slightly raised surface, rub it down with a fine-grain sandpaper, suggests Neighbour.
What home repairs do you tackle yourself? Let me know in the comments!
-by Nathaniel Benforado
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