It is instinctual for homeowners to contact an HVAC tech when they notice irregularities in their cooling or heating system. These irregularities could be a direct result of a dirty or clogged air filter. We encourage homeowners to check their filters and replace if necessary. It’s also beneficial for homeowners with pets, carpet, or for homes near fields or construction zones to have multiple filters for convenient replacement.
If you are willing to buy and pick up the materials yourself, you avoid paying for shopping and pick-up time. But you may find it inconvenient, strenuous, and time-consuming to pick up a load of bricks, a few large sheets of plywood, or similar items. If the company will be doing the shopping and buying, get the company to commit to the time and cost for that task; some will agree that there will be no extra charge.
How to DIY it: You should already be emptying the lint trap before every load of laundry. To do a thorough cleaning of the dryer and its vent duct system, unplug the machine (and turn off the gas valve if it has one). Pry off the access panel on the front (try a putty knife covered with duct tape to prevent scratching) and vacuum around the motor and heating element (above). Then carefully disconnect the vent duct tubing from the back of the dryer and use a dryer vent brush (about $10 at home centers; look for one that also cleans refrigerator coils) to pull out any accumulated lint. Aim to do this at least once a year.
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Inspect and replace your engine air filter. Just unscrew or unclip the air filter box retainers and remove the old filter. Then hold a shop light behind the filter to see how much light passes through. If the filter blocks 50 percent of more of the light, replace the filter. If not, put it back in, secure the air filter box cover and keep driving. Get the full step-by-step on changing your air filter here. It’s one of the easier things you can do to fix up cars.
When you hire a contractor or specialist, they usually supply the materials, and often at a markup. If they don't provide the materials, they may not guarantee a repair, or your choices are limited to what they have in stock. When you choose your own materials, you know how much the product costs, and you can stay within your budget. You also get to choose the manufacturer, finish and register any warranty agreement.
Plumbing vent boots can be all plastic, plastic and metal, or even two-piece metal units. Check plastic bases for cracks and metal bases for broken seams. Then examine the rubber boot surrounding the pipe. That can be rotted away or torn, allowing water to work its way into the house along the pipe. With any of these problems, you should buy a new vent boot to replace the old one. But if the nails at the base are missing or pulled free and the boot is in good shape, replace them with the rubber-washered screws used for metal roofing systems. You’ll find them at any home center with the rest of the screws. You’ll have to work neighboring shingles free on both sides. If you don’t have extra shingles, be careful when you remove shingles so they can be reused. Use a flat bar to separate the sealant between the layers. Then you’ll be able to drive the flat bar under the nail heads to pop out the nails.
Ask about companies’ hourly labor rates and how many workers are included in the rates (some send two workers to every job). Also ask about minimum charges. Many handyperson services have minimums of two hours or more, and some tack on a half-hour of labor or more for travel time (most home services charge the same fees for travel time regardless of where customers live). If the jobs on your list can be done in an hour, don’t hire a company that charges a three-hour minimum. Because many handyperson services bill labor charges in one-hour increments, have a few optional jobs ready in case you need to fill up a worker’s hour.
Many an amateur DIY enthusiast has spotted a job that needs doing and gone out to buy the appropriate tools, only to find that they're way out of their league. Book a handyman using the Handy app or website and you can be sure that they'll arrive with everything they’ll need to get the job done. In addition to your run-of-the-mill screwdrivers and hammers, your handyman specialist will read your job description before they arrive to ensure they come prepared for anything that your specific job may require. Don't worry about whether you’ve got the right tools for the job. Book a handyman through Handy and leave it to the professionals.
While you’re at it: If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, consider getting one. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an Energy Star–rated model can save you about $180 in heating and cooling costs each year. You can buy one for about $40 and install it yourself. It’s a relatively easy job; no rewiring required. On the other hand, these are home improvement projects you should never, ever DIY.
While you’re at it: Any appliance that uses water has a shutoff valve. But when valves go untouched for years, mineral deposits can make them impossible to close. Before that happens, locate the valves for your washer, ice maker, water heater, etc., and turn the handle (clockwise, about a quarter turn) every year or so (more often if your water is very hard), and then turn it back. Here are some ten-minute maintenance tasks you didn’t know you needed.
Generally, in the United States, there are few legal issues if an unpaid homeowner works on a project within their own home, with some exceptions. Some jurisdictions require paid handymen to be licensed and/or insured. New Jersey, for example, requires all handymen who work in for-profit businesses serving residential and commercial customers, to be registered and insured. Often handymen are barred from major plumbing, electrical wiring, or gas-fitting projects for safety reasons, and authorities sometimes require workers to be licensed in particular trades. However, minor plumbing work such as fixing water taps, connecting sinks, fixing leaks, or installing new washing machines, are usually permitted to be done without licensing. Many handymen are insured under a property damage liability policy, so that accidental property damage from negligence or accidents are covered.
Upholstery shops charge almost $200 to fix tears in your seats. You can do it yourself in a few hours with a vinyl and leather repair kit (less than $20) from any auto parts store. You’ll have to practice a bit to get the right color mix and it might not be a perfect match when you’re done, but it’s a heck of a lot better than driving around with torn seats. Start by gluing reinforcing fabric onto the underside of the torn vinyl or leather. Then mix the heat-set filler to match your fabric color and apply it to the tear. Next, find a textured mat that most closely resembles the texture of your vinyl or leather and place it onto the liquid filler. Heat the patching tool with a clothes iron and press it onto the textured mat. Remove the patching tool, but leave the textured mat in place until the patch cools. Then peel it off. Get the full story on repairing leather here.