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.
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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This summer, they decided to paint the frames black, which cost $900. Mr. Sievers, a special-education teacher, and his wife, a doctor, could have done the work themselves, a solution that do-it-yourself enthusiasts would suggest. But the doors face the street, and the couple wanted the end result to look polished. “My dad and my uncle used to always do home repairs and everything used to come out uneven or crooked,” Mr. Sievers said. So he paid a professional.
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A garbage disposal is a bit scary when it’s turned on and the blades are noisily chopping up kitchen waste. But, if your disposal gets stinky, fear not. It’s easy to clean out the gunk and get rid of the smell. If the splash guard needs replacing, you can do that in 20 minutes! If you need to replace the entire disposal you can replace it yourself.
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.