wikiHow to Become a Fix It All Householder

Becoming a fix it all homeowner takes time, patience, and investment in tools and materials. You will become a jack-of-all-trades, not a master craftsman in each one. Over a period of years, the cost of accumulating the right tools for each job, and basic skills in using them will pay dividends in saved money hiring professionals, as well as popularity in the neighborhood if you are willing to help out others in your community.


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    Get the right tool for each job. Often, a pair of pliers, a screwdriver, and an adjustable wrench are all you'll need, but to replace the washers in a bathroom faucet or to tune up the lawn mower, you will find the right tool for the job makes it much simpler and easier.
    • If you are just starting out, you may want to acquire tools slowly, as you need them. You'll spread out the expense and keep the clutter under control if you do.
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    Set up a place to store your tools and spare material. A workshop is ideal, but even a good sized shelf in a utility closet will do. You will also need a work surface, such as a table or workbench, on which to perform repairs.
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    Buy a good computer program or guidebook on basic home repair. The scope of the material should depend on your willingness to tackle various jobs and the kinds of jobs you wish to perform first. Start with a general guide. Then, as you need them, look up or purchase guides covering appliances, door hardware, plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, flooring, painting, exterior trim, roofing, and other specific topics.
    • Try your local library, especially for projects that you may only have to address once or twice in the course of your home repairs.
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    Look for special classes offered at local home centers like Lowe's, Home Depot, Bunnings, or Mitre 10. You can attend a two to four hour class and learn the basics for installing various products, such as ceramic tile or light fixtures. These classes are usually taught on basic levels, and give detailed lists of supplies and tools required for each one.
    • Your local trade school, community college, or adult education program may also have home repair classes. Look around and see what you find.
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    Watch tradesmen who come to do repairs for you. If you hire someone to tackle a repair job that you think is too much for you, watch how they do it, providing they don't object. If you are helpful and pass a tool to them, or hold something while they work on it, they may be inclined to share a little of their knowledge and tips with you. Take care not to get in their way; you may run up the bill if they are paid by the hour.
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    Talk to neighbors and friends. If you need help with something, often you will find someone with experience, and learning from their experience will make your job easier and reduce the potential for mistakes.
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    Shop for the prices as well as quality. A great price on a ladder or saw is no bargain if the tool fails, and can even be dangerous. Great close-out stores are everywhere, and often they offer professional grade tools at a fraction of their usual price, but make sure what you're getting is suitable.
    • Are you buying a tool or part that needs to perform well and last a long time? If so, consider it an investment and be willing to pay for quality up front.
    • Remember that you can also save money by using something for a long time, installing it correctly for yourself, and by not buying things you don't really need.
    • Price does not always mean quality. A $20 faucet may serve perfectly well if you don't mind a basic appearance. A $300 faucet probably includes a markup for a brand name and designer styling. Product reviews and ratings can help you determine what's worth paying extra.
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    Read the owners or service manuals on your tool before using it. A screwdriver or wrench may seem innocent enough, but even these harmless looking items have led to trips to the Emergency Room when used carelessly.
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    Use the proper extension cords for all power tools. Do not plug a three-pronged (grounded) tool into a non-grounded receptacle with an adapter. The ground wire in the circuit is there for a reason, and a dangerous situation can occur if you do this.
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    Take notes when you do a repair. If you change out a plumbing or electrical fixture this week, chances are you will be doing maintenance on it again someday. Remembering the mistakes you make the first time will help avoid them in the future, and knowing where you purchased an item, and when, may help you with warranty issues or finding parts for future repairs.
    • Keep a file folder just for warranties and product manuals.
    • Take digital photos. While you have the wall cut open or the trench dug, take photos of your project. They will help you remember later how things went together, where pipes, wires, or other hidden items went, and so on.
    • Keep a notebook where you record your home repairs, and date your entries.
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    Unplug any appliances you decide to work on. Do not assume that an unplugged appliance is harmless. Some have electric motors equipped with start and run capacitors that can hold a charge long after the cord is pulled. Old televisions were serious hazards at one time, since they contained high voltage high discharge capacitors that would hold a dangerous electrical charge indefinitely, even after being disassembled or ending up in a landfill.
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    Turn the water off before unhooking or working on faucets, water valves, and dishwasher components. If you turn the water off to the hot water heater, turn off the power supply or gas to it also, to protect it from overheating.
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    costs nothing and takes only minutes.]]Watch around the house for problems before they occur. Good maintenance can prevent many home repairs. Routine maintenance can include lubricating door locks and hinges, cleaning drain lines in the bathroom and kitchen sink, vacuuming the refrigerator coils and air conditioning coils, fixing plumbing leaks as soon as you find them, and watching for loose or broken shingles.
    • Broken shingles are a good example of preventive maintenance. They can be repaired or replaced easily and simply, but once water gets under them, roof decking can begin to rot, attic insulation becomes wet and moldy, and ceilings can be stained or damaged.
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    Keep a maintenance list or schedule for any items in your home that require regular maintenance. Hopefully most car owners change their oil, oil filter, air filter, and spark plugs, but many people don't realize their air conditioning system and furnace have electric motors that need occasional lubrication, or that the hot water heater should be drained and deposits flushed out every few years. Simple maintenance, which the average homeowner can learn to do, will prevent the need to do major, and expensive, home repairs later.
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    Buy your repair materials in the most economical quantity. Often, you may buy a six inch piece of PVC pipe to repair a leak, when you can buy a ten foot piece for much less priced per foot. If you can store it conveniently, it will last for years and possibly save you a trip to the hardware store if you have another plumbing problem later. Glue, caulk, paint, and other solvent-based products have a short shelf life, and can be hazardous to store in your home, so buy only the amount you need of a single task.
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    Keep spare parts in containers you can label and find easily when you need them. Having a dozen spare fuses will do you no good if you cannot find them when the lights go out.
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    Ask for help when you are over your head. If you have doubts your repair is going to work, or have spent an afternoon trying to get it just right, and can't seem to do it, swallow your pride, and get help. Everyone bites off more than they can chew from time to time.
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    Plan the project or repair from start to finish before you begin. Having the water or electricity off for hours while you look for the right part will not make you popular with the other residents in your home.
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    Make good friends at the local supply stores. Even though they are only there to sell the item you need, many are a wealth of information on replacing, installing, fitting, or finishing the products they sell, and sometimes they will even loan a tool for a particular job.
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    Keep track of costs. If you find buying parts to repair a coffee maker or toaster is more than the price of a new one, don't make that mistake again. Televisions are notorious for excessive repair costs, compared to purchasing a new one.
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    Save the old stuff you remove or replace. If you have a place to store it, often something you have replaced will have usable parts for the next project. An example would be a power supply cord. If you burn up a saw, you may use the cord from it on another power tool later on.
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    Learn the talk. If you are going to buy parts for home repair projects, you will have better luck if you know the correct name. Reading articles about the type of repair you are doing, or looking at repair manuals will help. Asking your brother-in-law who is all thumbs, and being told it is a "whatchamacallit" usually will not.
    • If you're still lost, try taking in a part that you want to replace or a photo of the part.
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    Be reasonable on yourself, and don't expect every project to be a success. Think of failures or mishaps as part of the tuition to the school of home repair. Remember, even master plumbers have leaks or crossed threads on pipes and fittings.


  • Buy the tools you need to do the job. If you have to buy a $100.00 tool to do a $10.00 job, rent or borrow one, or go ahead and hire someone to do it.
  • Get advice, but take it in context. If you ask an electrician how to change a complicated part, he may make it sound easy, and naturally it is for HIM, but it may be more than you want to tackle.
  • Plumbing problems can become an issue in every household, leaky pipes, sinks, pools or tanks require instant attention. Try to find a repair kit that can fix multiple leaks, light activated resin products are the most versatile on the market.


  • Do not leave parts, materials, and especially solvents, glues, or other chemicals out and unattended. These can be deadly poisonous or extremely flammable, and should be treated with respect. Additionally, never leave any tools (or any items for that matter) unattended on ladders. Should someone need to move a ladder for any reason, items left will more than likely fall - potentially injuring people or damaging surfaces below.
  • Be especially careful with electricity, as noted in the article. If you turn off a circuit breaker, make sure no one turns it back on before you finish the job.
  • Use care and the proper type of ladder for type of work. Basically, this means one that is suitable for the job, high enough to avoid over reaching and set up on a stable surface. Always use a non-conductive (fiberglass or wooden) ladder when repairing or replacing overhead electrical devices.
  • Home repairs can be dangerous in more ways than can be listed here. Use all tools properly and carefully.

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