It can be a real chore to deal with all of your home’s trouble spots and “quirks,” especially after you’ve learned to live with them. Sometimes it’s out of pure procrastination, putting off for months a minor repair that would take only five minutes to complete. Other times, we may delay because we’re just not sure how to handle the problem (but we sure don’t want to pay a handyman to do something we should be capable of doing ourselves). Whatever the case, these little annoyances can add up to much bigger frustrations, leaving us with a feeling that the house is completely falling apart. Never fear: We’ve outlined 11 of the most common annoying house problems and provided the quick-and-easy fixes that will bring your home back to tip-top shape.
The most common culprit here is a leaky rubber flapper, which allows water to flow from the tank to the bowl when you flush. There’s a very simple and inexpensive fix, but first, verify that the flapper’s the cause by dropping some food coloring into the tank. Wait a few minutes. If you see the food coloring bleeding into the bowl, take a trip to your local hardware store to pick up a new flapper.
Almost nothing can bug you more than a torn window screen, but take a deep breath of that fresh air—it’s an easy repair to make. For a tiny tear, apply clear nail polish to the spot to bond the screen together. For larger rips and tears, use window screen repair tape (available on Amazon) or a repair patch. If the mesh is beyond repair, you can replace the screen in the existing frame using a kit from the hardware store, like this one from The Home Depot.
Filling In Picture Holes
Hide eyesores leftover from hanging pictures by filling the hole with premixed spackling, applied with a putty knife. After it dries, smooth over the spot with a small sanding sponge. If you no longer have the original paint for the wall, any paint store can match the color if you bring in a sample.
A sticky keyhole just needs a little lubricant. The problem is that WD-40, spray silicone, and other liquids attract more dirt down the road and can make the problem even worse. Instead, try powdered graphite, which you can order from Amazon. It comes in a little tube with a small nozzle so you can squeeze it into tight spaces like keyholes. Be sure to put a little on the latch while you’re at it.
Diverting Gutter Runoff
If your gutters are dumping water right next to your foundation, you’re just asking for trouble. Use a flexible corrugated drainpipe to lengthen and extend your gutter downspouts well away from your exterior. You can choose to bury the pipe or leave it exposed—either way, make sure the water is headed away from your house and not back into it.
Windows That Stick
If you have a window that has been painted shut, score the paint all the way around with a utility knife. Then take a putty knife and gently tap it into the gap with a hammer to free the window. If it’s still stuck, you may need to try a small pry bar at the bottom to break it loose. To prevent damage, use only a small piece of wood between the pry bar and sill.
Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure can have several causes, but the solution can be as simple as adjusting your pressure-reducing valve. You’ll find this bell-shaped valve near where your main water line enters the house. Loosen the locknut before making any adjustments, then turn the bolt on the valve to affect the water pressure. Clockwise increases pressure and counterclockwise decreases it. Adjust a half turn and then check; repeat as necessary.
Depending on the source of the leak and the type of faucet, your quick fix may vary, but you’re most likely dealing with a worn washer or O-ring. If you have separate handles for hot and cold water, shut off the water to one at a time to determine which causes the drip. Once you know, make sure the water is shut off and then disassemble the faulty handle so you can reach and replace the washer and O-ring. If the faucet is really old, consider replacing it with a new model that will match the holes left by the old model.
Most folks will grab the trusty WD-40 to tackle a squeaky door, but that’s actually not the best choice for long-term lubrication. Stick with WD-40 for cleaning metal parts and protecting against rust, and use silicone spray here instead. The odor isn’t quite as strong, and your squeak won’t come back as quickly either.
Next time your tub drain is clogged, skip the Drano and pick up the Cobra Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool from Amazon. This barbed plastic strip costs only a few dollars, but it is worth its weight in gold. Simply slip the Zip-It tool into your drain, twist, and pull out the clog. It works better and faster than gunk-dissolving chemicals, and it’s much safer for the environment and your health. Bonus: It’s reusable.
Dirty Old Caulking
Old caulking around tubs, toilets, and sinks is unattractive and ineffective. Fortunately, it’s not hard to replace. First, apply some caulk remover and let it sit for a few minutes, following the package’s instructions. Carefully scrape it away with a putty knife. Then, add a thin bead of new caulk and smooth it over with your finger for that clean, finished look.