Maintenance is the best way to avoid the most costly home repairs. A few hours on the ladder cleaning out the gutters could save you thousands in foundation repairs. A quick application of sealant on the driveway could buy a few more years before you have to repave the whole thing. We've assembled a list of the 10 most expensive types of home repairs and the best do-it-yourself maintenance tips to avoid breaking the bank.
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When vinyl windows and doors don’t operate smoothly, it’s usually because gunk has built up in the channels. But sometimes even clean windows and doors can bind. Try spraying dry PTFE spray lubricant on the contact points and wiping it off with a rag. Don’t use oil lubricants; they can attract dirt, and some can damage the vinyl. Make sure to keep your windows clean all year long with these pro tips.
How to DIY it: Clean up any rough edges around the hole, then stick the patch onto the wall over the hole (left). Using the taping knife, spread a layer of joint compound over it and let it dry overnight. Then spread a wider second coat, feathering out the compound on all sides to make the patch blend in. Let it dry, then apply one more coat extending 8 to 12 inches beyond the patch in all directions. After the final coat dries, sand the area with a sanding sponge (a foam block wrapped in sandpaper) until it feels smooth and even. Prime, and then paint.
Repairs often mean simple replacement of worn or used components intended to be periodically renewed by a home-owner, such as burnt out light bulbs, worn out batteries, or overfilled vacuum cleaner bags. Another class of home repairs relates to restoring something to a useful condition, such as sharpening tools or utensils, replacing leaky faucet washers, cleaning out plumbing traps, rain gutters. Because of the required precision, specialized tools, or hazards, some of these are best left to experts such as a plumber. One emergency repair that may be necessary in this area is overflowing toilets. Most of them have a shut-off valve on a pipe beneath or behind them so that the water supply can be turned off while repairs are made, either by removing a clog or repairing a broken mechanism.
You'll get an email from your pro to confirm the date, time, and other details. Please be prepared to provide your pro the exact list of projects you would like them to complete and, wherever possible, related product URLs. During appointment scheduling, you will have the option to allow the provider to contact you to discuss the projects and tools needed in more detail.
The table below reports labor charges for one to six hours of work (per worker) for a sample of area handyperson services. (Rates were collected by our telephone shoppers who did not disclose their affiliation with Consumers' Checkbook.) As you can see, there are big differences: For one hour of work, you can pay between $50 and $259; for six hours between $300 and $774. The table also shows companies’ hourly rates.
Need your garage door repaired? Odds are, once you account for materials, labor and unforeseen hiccups, you’ll be writing a check for a grand. Your sump pump died? A new one could cost you around $600 for parts and labor, which doesn’t seem so bad considering the alternative is a flooded basement. But then the plumber might discover that the pipe carrying the water from the house to the street is clogged with years’ of debris and needs to be flushed out. And maybe there’s a blockage somewhere. There you have it: $1,000.
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.
Need some ideas for kitchen remodeling? We all have dreams of a perfect kitchen design. From choosing the right kitchen cabinets to designing practical kitchen islands and appliance repair, we'll help that dream come true. (And if you're tired of eating take out and need some help with the renovations, we'll get you a contractor right away.) See All Kitchen
If you can see light creeping beneath exterior doors, air is also escaping. Grab a few packages of self-adhesive rubber foam weatherstripping and go to town, sealing any and all doors that lead outside. Weatherstripping already installed but you’re still suffering from a high gas bill? It might be time to replace the strips installed by the previous owners. Check out this handy tutorial on installing weatherstripping.