Definitive Guide to Small Household Repairs

Learn how to perform minor repairs at home without the help of professionals, boyfriends, brothers or friends

Gone is the time when, for any repairs that were needed at home, a woman needed the help of her husband, brother, father, boyfriend or a specialized handyman services providers. Most small household repairs can be done by yourself, with willpower and a little training. The guide below is a big step towards your complete independence from handyman services.

Changing the lamp

As it is an operation that involves electricity, it is important to eliminate the risk of electric shock. Turn off the circuit breaker of that room in the house on the electricity board – if you don’t know which circuit breaker is in each room, just test it one by one, turning it off and on, until you cut the power from the right place.

Holding the glass part of the lamp, rotate it counterclockwise to release it from the base. Then, hold the new lamp by the bulb and screw in the base, clockwise. Turn the circuit breaker on and test it, turning on the ambient light.

It is important to be sure to replace the old lamp with one with the same voltage (it can be 110v or 220v). The old lamp must be properly discarded.

Painting a wall

Some materials are needed. Before you begin, provide a roll of synthetic or sheep wool, a container for paint, brush, masking tape, newspaper or cardboard to protect the floor. Choose a water-based paint in the color of your choice. Pour a little into the ink container and “season” according to the instructions on the package (usually the manufacturer asks that the paint be diluted with water before application; this process is called “tempering the paint”).

Then use masking tape to protect places that you don’t want to paint, such as the baseboard, the doorframe and the window frame, for example. Dip the roller in the paint, removing the excess in the container itself; then apply the paint to the wall (which must be clean), using paint whenever necessary. Use the brush to paint the corners next to the masking tape or that the roller cannot reach.

Unclogging the sink

Small clogs can be circumvented with a plunger. Remember to use it with the sink containing water. If, on the other hand, the case seems critical, there are two solutions. In the most basic, pour a cup of salt, one of baking soda and boiling water down the drain. In the most drastic, unscrew the siphon (it is under the sink and will be threaded down the drain), and throw the accumulated dirt out of it – be careful not to make too much of a mess; remember that what is there is a mixture of water with leftover food and the view may not be pleasant at all. Then screw the siphon back on.

Changing the shower resistance

Again, be sure to turn off the bathroom circuit breaker before you start working on it. The risk of shock in this case is high if you do not take this precaution. Remove the bottom of the shower and then the resistance that is burnt. Following the instructions on the package, install the new heating element, replacing the bottom of the shower and screwing it in tightly to prevent leaks. Before turning the power back on, open the valve and let cold water run through the shower – this procedure prevents the new resistance from burning. Turn the circuit breaker on and use the shower normally.

Fixing the flush

When the discharge goes off, there may be a problem with the spring inside the valve. The valve is that “button” that you press to discharge. Open the cover and, using a screwdriver, remove the outer part, which contains the spring. The new set must be specifically of the same brand as its discharge. Install it and screw it again with the help of a screwdriver. Close the valve cover.

Hanging pictures and shelves

The main difficulties, when hanging pictures and shelves, is to keep them completely straight and firm on the wall. You will need a drill, drills, wall plugs and screws – all items can be purchased at building supply stores -, a screwdriver, hammer and masking tape.

In the case of large frames or heavy shelves, which need more than one screw, make sure that all of them are fully aligned. You can do this using a tape measure, a meter or a measuring tape to mark from the ceiling where the screws will be. After marking, protect the area with a piece of masking tape, this prevents the paint from peeling.

Position the drill at the location where you want to drill the hole, at a right angle. After drilling, insert the plug into the hole made – if necessary, use the hammer to fully insert it. Finally, place the screw on the bushing with the help of a screwdriver.

If you want to hang a small picture, like a picture frame, for example, you don’t need a drill, drill or screw, just mark the location of the hole and use a nail and hammer.

Fixing cracks

Cracks are normal and usually appear in different places in the house, but you must make sure that the crack you found does not compromise the structure of the building. Tap lightly with your fist in place – if the sound is “hollow”, it is best to call a specialist. Otherwise, a little pasta should solve the problem.

If the paint has “peeled off” from the wall, like a bubble whose peel has come off, it is best to finish peeling it off with the help of a spatula. If this is not the case, just peel in a rectangle around the original crack. Cover the gap with spackle and a synthetic nylon screen – you can find this product at building supply stores. Spread another layer of spackle over the canvas. Wait to dry and sand until the surface is completely smooth.

Installing chandeliers and fixtures

It is important to turn off the power in the room in which you want to install the chandelier or lamp. Electric shocks are dangerous and can even be fatal, so make sure you have turned off the main switch or circuit breaker in the room.

At the power outlet of the ceiling or wall there will be two wires of electricity. You must connect them to the fixture or chandelier wires – if they are capped, use a stylus to strip off the tips of both. To connect the wires, simply place them side by side and twist with pliers, covering the joint with plenty of electrical tape.

Fit the chandelier holder into the holes in the screws that are already in the ceiling power outlet. Fix the chandelier on the ceiling with the screws and the help of a screwdriver.

Finding leaks

It is often difficult to notice if there are leaks at home and you may end up realizing it only when the rooms are flooded. If you suspect that a pipeline is leaking, an easy way to confirm the suspicion is to look at the water meter. After closing all the taps in the house very well, dial the number registered on it and spend an hour without using the taps, the shower or even the toilet. Check the hydrometer again to see if it still has the same number on the record – as would be normal – or if that number has increased – which indicates a leak

Fixing the faucet

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You will need pliers, a screwdriver, a wrench, a griffin, and a new tap seal – also known as leatherette. Close the water valve and unscrew the pin from the top of the tap with the pliers. Take it out and leave it separate. Using the screwdriver, remove the internal screw of the tap, which is located under this pin. Loosen the top of the faucet with the wrench.


Then, remove the old seal and replace it with a new one, snapping each part back into place. If, when removing the top of the tap, you notice that the seal is firm, you will need to change the tap. In this case, it is worth following the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Correcting wall imperfections

You will need spackle – buy it ready at paint or building materials stores -, trowel, spatula, sandpaper and dust mop. This type of repair serves to cover holes or cracks in the wall. This work usually generates a lot of white dust, so it is advisable to cover the furniture with old sheets and the floor with newspaper or cardboard.

Start using the spatula to put some of the spackle on the trowel. Then, pass the trowel on the wall, in order to spread the spackle on the desired surface. Try to put a little pressure on the trowel so that the surface is as smooth as possible. Allow to dry for approximately five hours and sand the surface hard to make the wall completely smooth. Finally, use the duster to remove all dust generated by the sandpaper.

Sealing the window

If you suffer from rainwater leaking out of the window, you must first find out where it is coming from. When the point is completely dry, use a special gun to apply industrial silicone, sealing the hole.

Changing the switch

Before changing the switch, make sure it is not just bad contact. To do this, turn off the power in the environment in question and remove the protective cover from the switch. Disconnect the wires and connect them again, covering the splice with electrical tape. Put the cover back on and turn the power back on.

If the procedure does not work, remove the cover again and turn the switch to access the wires that are connected at the back. Disconnect these wires and replace the old switch with a new one, reconnecting the wires with the help of a Philips wrench. Put the switch back in place and finally the cover. Reconnect power and test the new switch.

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