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.
As I write this article, there is a man named Bob hammering large holes into the plaster ceiling in my entryway. If you were here, you'd smell what I'm smelling — the acrid odor of wet plaster, rusty pipes and the decades of black goo that has clogged them to a standstill. Bob is breaking up the ceiling to remove a few feet of 85-year-old cast-iron plumbing that's leaking tub water from the upstairs bathroom. With every strike of his hammer, I see dollar signs.
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.