4 household skills everyone should master
24 Jul 2014 3:05 PM
Posted by Caitlin O'Leary
Learn these skills and you may never need to call a handyman again (or at least not very often)
Have you ever called a handyman, plumber or electrician, only to have them come over, fix the problem in three seconds and charge you more than you expected? We’ll help you save unnecessary time and money calling a pro with these DIY household skills.
How to fix a leaking tap
A leaking tap is a common household problem. Most leaking taps mean that the washer needs replacing. There are three washers that could be the cause, the O-ring, the body washer and the jumper valve. If you haven’t replaced any of these in a while, it’s a good idea to head to your local hardware store and buy all three brand new.
Step 1) Turn off the water supply to your house.
Step 2) Turn the tap on to release any water left in the pipe, and plug your sink to make sure no small parts fall down the drain.
Step 3) Remove the tap’s cover with a screwdriver, undo the screw (which will probably be under the hot or cold symbols) and remove the handle.
Step 4) Unscrew the tap bonnet with a spanner or wrench. A metal cover may protect the bonnet. If so, unscrew it by hand or with a wrench.
Step 5) Take off the bonnet to reveal the O-ring, the body washer and the jumper valve. The jumper valve should just fall out.
Step 6) Replace all three parts and reverse the process to put it back together.
How to plunge a sink
If your sink is slow-running or clogged, then it’s probably time to plunge it. Plunging is a chemical and contact-free way to clear blocked sinks and pipes.
Step 1) Fill the sink with enough water to cover the rubber part of your plunger.
Step 2) Remove the pop-up drain stopper. This can either be done by unscrewing it from the top or by pulling the pivot rod, which is usually located under the sink.
Step 3) Block any extra openings (such as the opening to a double sink, a connected dishwasher or a garbage disposal) with a wet rag.
Step 4) Place the plunger directly over the drain to create a seal, and repeatedly press the handle up and down. You should use as much force as possible for this.
hh tip: If you are having trouble getting a good seal between the plunger and the drain opening, apply some Vaseline around the plunger cup.
Step 5) Remove the plunger and check to see whether water drains. If it doesn’t repeat the process until the clog is removed.
How to understand a meter box
‘What exactly is a meter box?’ I hear you ask. A meter box is that box located outside your house with all the different coloured fuses and switches. Have you ever wondered what they all do? Well, the white fuses are customer fuses. These provide over-current protection and only operate in response to an electric overload or short-circuit. The black fuses provide over-current installation protection. Depending on your electrical installation, there may be one or three of these. The series of switches in your meter box are called circuit breakers. When the switch is in the ‘up’ position, electricity can flow. Finally, the main switch provides complete electrical isolation of your home.
If the power goes off in your home, follow these simple steps:
Step 1) Turn off the main switch
Step 2) Pull out one customer fuse at a time, making sure that the fuse wire is still intact
Step 3) Switch any circuit breakers that have changed to the ‘down’ position, back to the ‘up’ position
Step 4) Turn the main switch on
If this doesn’t work, or if one of the customer fuses is broken, we give you permission to call a professional!
Repair cracks in rendered walls
The most common cause of cracks in rendered walls is a change of moisture level in the ground below the house. Other causes include the deterioration of building materials, extreme weather and poor design and construction. Luckily, most cracks are easy to repair.
Step 1: Use the tip of a screwdriver or the edge of a scraper to scrape away loose material from the crack, and then go over it with a vacuum cleaner to ensure none remains.
Step 2: Dampen the crack with a wet sponge.
Step 3: Apply a flexible gap filler (we recommend using an acrylic gap filler!) using a caulking gun. You can purchase a caulking gun from your local hardware store.
Step 4: Smooth the surface with your scraper. Once you have done this, pat a damp sponge around the outside of the repair to remove any excess filler.
Step 5: Leave the repair for a couple of hours until it is dry to the touch.
Step 6: Apply a paint primer and then your topcoat to match the rest of your wall.
hh tip: Use a small paint roller (instead of a brush) to apply the topcoat of paint as this will create more texture and make the repair look less obvious.