I’ve taken on a lot of home improvement tasks myself over the years – this DIY approach means I’ve made some mistakes. I’ve used the wrong tools, punched holes in walls, and been fooled by false promises in info ads “seen on TV” late at night.
We’ve all been through this. Home maintenance is daunting, and it’s easy to think, “I’m just inconvenient”. But then I started following Mercury Xingchen on TikTok, known as “The Handy Lady.” She has been doing home repairs for 14 years.
Here’s her advice on how to do your own basic home maintenance — and when to call in a professional.
ready to go to the hardware store
Hardware stores can be overwhelming. But with a little research, you can learn how to talk about “hardware”.
Take these steps before you go anywhere.
Identify the problem and its location. Ask yourself, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” Is it a flood or a leaking pipe? Where did it come from?
Isolate the problem. “Is the water coming from a pipe that I can close?”
If you have time, do some research. See how others have made the same repairs. Learn what they call the material and the methods they use to fix the problem. Every situation is different, and so is every family, but with a few different perspectives, you can effectively communicate your needs to the clerk.
In this case, your question might sound like.
I had a leak in my bathroom sink and I found the shutoff valve and turned off the water. But this seems to be a problem with the P valve part. Where can I find tools to remove the P valve?
4 Tools That Will Get You Most Home Improvement Tasks
I know those 80-piece sets are attractive and cheap, but when is it good to be attractive and cheap?
“When we’re talking about home kits, don’t trust the numbers,” Mercury said. “What you want is quality that you don’t usually get in a toolbox. Buying individual tools will be best for you”
Here are four tools that everyone should have in their toolkit.
10 in 1 multi-head screwdriver
Allen key (also known as hexagon key or Allen key)
These are basic and allow you to accomplish many home improvement tasks, but depending on the project you’re working on, you may need to add other tools. For example, you may need a large hammer for demolition. If you’re going to be doing electrical work, you’ll probably need insulated tools. The research you did before going to the hardware store will help you here.
For your first project, try unclogging your own sink
Now that you have the tools, find a project to help you become more comfortable with home maintenance. My Favorite: Clearing Sewer Blockages!
Go ahead and skip chemical drain cleaners. No glue will blow bundles of hair, paper, children’s toys into the maze of pipes unless it’s blocked at the very top of the drain. Straightforward non-chemical solutions: hand drills or drain snakes.
And know your limits. If your drain snake comes back free of mucus and hair, chances are the blockage is more than 8 feet deep–meaning, it’s time to call in a professional.
You can always ask for help
Speaking of professionals, you can always ask for help and learn something along the way.
If you are a renter, submitting a work order is your best bet. This protects you: it ensures that there are records showing that your apartment has been maintained and that you have asked your building management to resolve any issues.
Here are some tips to get your work order resolved quickly — and make sure you get your security deposit back.
Start with the most pressing issues and put them first. Clearly explain what happened, where it originated, and where you need help right now.
Write everything down, even if you’re on the phone with someone else. Make sure you send an email after the call detailing your conversation and CC the property manager.
A receipt is required when the repair work is completed. When you move out, you’ll want to prove that you solved a problem, even if the repair work didn’t fix it. Mercury recommends having a physical receipt even if your residence uses a digital portal. “You want to be able to say when you move out, ‘Someone did this…they were here on this date and this time’. This proof protects you in case the problem recurs or persists exist.
If your apartment is really in need of repair, Mercury recommends finding tenant resources in your town or city.