Before you go through the trouble of repainting a ceiling to get rid of a water stain, try this trick. Spray the spot with a bleach and water solution (10 percent bleach), and wait a day or two. If it’s an old stain, use a mold and mildew remover from the grocery store. You’d be surprised how often the stain disappears by the next day. It works on both flat and textured ceilings.
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.
Periodic maintenance also falls under the general class of home repairs. These are inspections, adjustments, cleaning, or replacements that should be done regularly to ensure proper functioning of all the systems in a house, and to avoid costly emergencies. Examples include annual testing and adjustment of alarm systems, central heating or cooling systems (electrodes, thermocouples, and fuel filters), replacement of water treatment components or air-handling filters, purging of heating radiators and water tanks, defrosting a freezer, vacuum refrigerator coils, refilling dry floor-drain traps with water, cleaning out rain gutters, down spouts and drains, touching up worn house paint and weather seals, and cleaning accumulated creosote out of chimney flues, which may be best left to a chimney sweep.
Sooner or later, every sprayed ceiling is going to get a water stain or a scrape. Spray texture in a can won’t perfectly match every ceiling texture, but it’s usually close, and a lot easier than respraying a whole ceiling. Before spraying, seal the patch with a stain-blocking primer, cover the floor and furniture, and practice your technique on scrap plywood or cardboard. Buy ceiling texture on Amazon now.
Depending on where you live, national averages can seem like a steal. Rene Artale’s four-bedroom house near Newcastle, in Westchester County, N.Y., suffered some damage during a storm last winter. A tree fell in the yard, damaging her fence, arbor and retaining wall. And heavy snow caused her roof to leak. The repair bills just kept piling up. Removing the tree, $3,800. Repairing the wall, $4,000. Fixing the roof, $3,800. Fixing the picket fence, $2,800. “It’s obscene,” Ms. Artale, 47, said.
Roll up your sleeves and take a few minutes to master five home repairs that you can do yourself without dangerous tools or complicated instructions. Even though spending a few hours regularly on DIY home maintenance and repairs may never become your hobby of choice, knowing how to perform a few simple fixes will keep your costs down and help get the work done on your schedule instead of your contractor's.
Most newer cabinets have self-closing hinges that hold the doors shut. Others have magnetic or roller catches. A catch that no longer keeps a door closed is either broken or out of adjustment. Catches are fastened with two screws, so replacing a damaged catch is simple. Adjustment is just as simple, but you might have to readjust the catch a couple of times before you get it right. Loosen the screws, move the catch in or out, and tighten the screws. If the door doesn’t close tightly, try again.
When that happens, all you can do is pay up, as happened with Jason Hark and Kenneth Larivee. In 2016, the couple got hit with a $28,000 assessment to replace the siding on their West Orange, N.J. townhouse in a condo association. This cost came on top of their $610 monthly association fee. After speaking with siding companies, Mr. Hark estimated that if his unit had been a stand-alone property, the project would have cost closer to $7,500. “But we couldn’t fight it,” said Mr. Hark, a director at WCBS-TV.
If you have a small remodeling job or other work difficult to describe over the phone, you might be able to obtain fixed-price quotes without having to set up a bunch of appointments by emailing photos of the work area along with a detailed description of the work—the majority of the handyperson services we surveyed use email to correspond with clients.
If you have shallow scratches or nicks, hide them with a stain-filled touch-up marker. Dab on the stain and wipe off the excess with a rag. But beware: Scratches can absorb lots of stain and turn darker than the surrounding finish. So start with a marker that’s lighter than your cabinet finish and then switch to a darker shade if needed. For deeper scratches, use a filler pencil, which fills and colors the scratch. Or, try using a walnut to remove scratches in wood!
Many people can do common household repairs. There are resources on the Internet, as well as do-it-yourself guide books, with instructions about how to complete a wide range of projects. Sometimes the fix-it skill is seen as genetic, and people lacking such skills are said to "lack the handy-man gene". One trend is that fewer homeowners are inclined to do fix-up jobs, perhaps because of time constraints, perhaps because of lack of interest; one reporter commented "my family's fix-it gene petered out before it reached my generation."
There's no national standard or regulation for handymen. Licensing and regulation vary by state. New Jersey, for example, requires handymen who work for a profit to register with the state and carry insurance. California requires handymen to carry a license from the State Contractors License Board to work on any project that exceeds $500 in labor and material costs. Find out before you hire the handyman if he or she has the skills needed to complete your project. Need Handyman Repairs? Click Here