These 9 top DIY Home Repairs come from years of managing and owning rental property. This list is our absolute most common tenant repair requests and/or issues we have to deal with after each tenancy. If a landlord can tackle the easiest home repairs himself/herself... there's money left to have the more important things done by professionals!
Water damage: learn where all water valves are (and show your tenants!!!)
1. Learn where you water valves are behind toilets/sinks
2. Learn where your main water valve
This could be the most important of our 9 top DIY home repairs. A plumbing leak can cause major damage and cost a small fortune.
Every occupant in the house should know where the water valves are located, and how to turn them off. There's a MAIN VALVE for the house. And there are also valves at every water source: behind toilets, under sinks.
Even a very minor leak can cause severe, costly damage. Show everyone where these valves are, and practice turning them off and on.
When you don't open and close windows, they get stuck. It's a law of nature. Similarly, doors will always eventually creak. Closet bi-fold doors may be hard to open or close. All very normal and expected things that happen in a home. But instead of becoming used to these issues and living with them like they are, just fix them! It may be SO very easy, you'll give yourself a high five when you're done. This is the EASIEST AND CHEAPEST of our 9 top DIY home repairs.
Two easy tips to help solve the problem:
1) Remove any old paint. It's common. Years of paint or dust or moisture within either of those builds up. Take a utility knife or even a paint scraper, and scrape excess off. Be careful not to cause holes or scratches.
2) Spray a lubricant like WD-40 along the hinges, slides, edges. You can find these blue bottles with the tiny plastic straws in most hardware, Ace, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart stores, and they are very inexpensive. Use this to unstick windows, quiet creaks, and make a sluggish window open effortlessly
AC not cooling?
1. Check thermostat batteries! If the thermostat is digital, it uses batteries and they need to be replaced periodically
2. Have you been replacing/cleaning your AC filter regularly... or is the filter/coil clogged up with nasty dust/gunk?!
Here is our MOST COMMON conversation after a tenant submits an AC repair request:
Us: describe the AC issue in detail
Tenant: it's not cooling
Us: is the AC blowing any air?
Tenant: yes, but it isn't cold air
Us: what does the temperate say on your thermostat?
Tenant: it says 78 degrees, but I keep trying to turn it to 74 degrees. It's definitely not 74 degrees in here, it's too hot.
Us: have you tried replacing the battery in your thermostat?
Tenant: there's a battery?
New battery. Cool air again.
Photo of a Reusable AC filter...
simply hose/brush off rather than replace each month.
Another common and more serious issues is when a tenant doesn't change the AC filter every month. Once dust, dirt, etc accumulates in the filter (and thus, the coil) there is limited ability for air flow to go through the system properly.
his can cause the unit to freeze up, or leak. It will stop cooling.
Dirty AC closet/door indicates not keeping filters clean/changed regularly
The MOST important thing you can do for your AC is ALWAYS keep your AC filter clean! Air must be able to pass through the filter easily. Once it gets clogged, the AC can freeze up or stop cooling completely. Not keeping the filter clean significantly reduces the life of the AC unit and creates a lot more repair costs over the years.
Top photo is a washable AC filter that was never washed. It was completely clogged with dust, etc. In this condition, no air can flow through to the system causing a freeze up and iced coils.
repair tech will typically charge $125 or more to get your AC cooling
again after this happens. If the dirt/dust/gunk buildup is too much and the AC coil gets too clogged... the cost for coil cleaning (acid wash) is usually in the range of $350-$425. If it's the tenant's fault? It could be a claim on security for that amount or even more!
There are a bunch of easy things to look at in the tank. Maybe the chain is too long and getting stuck under the rubber valve when it closes, causing the water to continue running/filling. That'll waste many gallons of water every day until you fix it. And it may be SO EASY to fix!
Chances are it's just the flapper that needs to be replaced. There are inexpensive kits that contain everything you need, easily found at Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, ACE, etc. Solve the problem yourself, and you'll save a ton of money. [video]
This top DIY home repair could possible save you over $100 or more!! Running toilets are an inevitable part of life. It's eventually going to happen. Why? The inner-workings of the toilet tank (top part with the CLEAN water) get old and need to be replaced. Did you know?
Calling a plumber will cost more than $100. Know how much you can repair this for? Usually UNDER $10!!!
Universal toilet repair kits are made to address the most common toilet sizes/types. If you know you have an uncommon or very specific toilet type, find that manufacturer's specific repair kits.
Maybe moving furniture around, a corner hit the wall and oops! A hole. Maybe you had a flat screen TV installed in the wall, but decided to move it. Oops, a couple of big holes need repair. Things happen. And drywall can get damaged. But it's pretty easy to fix!
The hardest part of drywall repair is making the patch flush with the existing wall.
A “pumpkin patch” is an easy repair that cuts down on sanding. [video]
A dripping faucet can waste 5 gallons of water per day. Most of the time, for most faucets, fixing the leak isn't so hard! Watch here:
Frequent use, no use, humidity, etc can make cabinet doors rub, refuse to close, or just look cockeyed. Adjusting them is easy and generally requires only a screwdriver. [video]
Replace an Electrical Outlet
Electrical outlets will stop working over time. They aren't made to function for 30 years. They may also be an unfortunate color, that doesn't match the new home improvements you've made.
The most common colors are white, beige, black. There are a couple of wires in the back, and you screw it into the existing hole.
Cover with a matching outlet plate and the whole project costs less than $5.00 and you can do it in less than 20 minutes! Most electricians charge a site fee (to show up to your home) of around $75, plus no less than $25 per hour. This most needed repair tip could save you HUNDREDS!!
The last of our 9 top DIY home repairs could save you the most money. Why? It's inevitable... appliances break. They can be expensive to replace. But lots of times, they don't need to be replaced at all! For instance, this microwave! The bottom of the door is cracked. Ugly. At first sight, the owner said "I need a new microwave". But why? The microwave works perfectly! It's just the door that cracked.
Take a look at the microwave door hinge. Notice anything? How easy it would be to slide off? There are TONS of companies that sell appliance PARTS. Get the make and model number off of the inside of the appliance. Paste that information into a google search and voila! You'll end up with a bunch of companies that are selling that part! This particular door, in black to match exactly, is $187. To replace it with installation (wall microwaves are very heavy) could be well over $500.
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