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Three Easy Do-It-Yourself Home Repairs to Save Money

My father was a plumber and an electrical repairman as well as a general do-it-yourself repairman. He taught me many valuable lessons.



1. How to Keep the Refrigerator Going Without Calling the Repairman

My father was an electrical repairman as well as a general do-it-yourself repairman. He taught me a valuable lesson about all sorts of household appliances and in particular, refrigerators.

When a refrigerator stops keeping things cold, most people call a repairman and take their word for it when they tell you the machine is shot and you have to buy a new one. My father assured me that this isn’t necessarily the truth. Many (not all) will take advantage of the naive layperson and gain credit for a sale while picking up a perfectly good used machine to resell.

Check the Refrigerator's Motor Fan

Before paying for a home visit from a repair person, try an easy check first. Listen to see if you can hear the fan running near the bottom of the machine. That fan is very important, and if you don’t hear it, it could be the cause of the problem.

First, pull the fridge away from the wall and unplug it. Next, remove the bottom protective panel. Inside beyond the main motor, you should see a fan blade. The most common problem with refrigerators is that something—a piece of paper or sometimes a rodent—gets caught in the fan blades, making it stop turning. When that happens the machine shuts off the flow of the freon.

Once, this happened to my fridge and I found a dead mouse blocking the fan blades. Gross.

Years later, when we needed a new fridge, my pastor offered their old machine to us because they had purchased a new one. The repairman had told them the machine wasn’t worth fixing but they decided not to trade it in. I’m glad they didn’t, because sure enough, the only thing wrong with it was that a piece of heavy paper had stopped the fan blades from turning. Presto, I had a "new" used refrigerator. What a blessing.



2. Easy-to-Fix Toilet Problems

Another repair job that can cost a lot is bathroom plumbing. My father clued me into several repairs that can be done by anyone to keep problems at a minimum for the average household. These days you can probably Google problems and find YouTube videos that help with repairs but if you know it’s something you can take care of yourself, that is half the problem.

Most people don’t like the idea of getting their hands into this kind of plumbing, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. The upper tank is filled with fresh water with each flush, so actually it is clean.

The mechanism inside the tank is really rather simple and usually easy to maintain and repair if necessary. Here is a list of things you can take care of yourself:

  • Water constantly running
  • Water running periodically
  • No flush when the handle is pushed

But if the tank is leaking or there is a crack in the porcelain, it’s time to get a new commode.

Problem: Water Is Running Constantly or Periodically

There is something wrong with the chain or plug. Once you open up the tank you should see a float with an arm and a rubber plug attached to a chain at one end of the arm. When you flush the chain pulls the plug and the water rushes out, which triggers the water to fill the tank again until the float reaches a certain spot and then shuts off. There is a small screw at the top of the arm that can be tightened if the water gets too high or loosened if the water stays too low. Usually, the water gets too high allowing some to spill out of the drain. The float needs to be set lower so that the water is shut off before it gets that high. Simple as that. A screwdriver is all you need.

Problem: There Is No Flush

This is usually because the chain has disconnected from the plug. All you have to do is reach in and slip the chain end hook back onto the loop on the plug and presto, all fixed.

Those are some pretty simple fixes for common bathroom problems.

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Frozen pipes

Frozen pipes

3. Winterize Your Own Plumbing

When winter comes around, it's time to think about winterizing your pipes. Any exposed water pipes can freeze and cause the nightmare of burst pipes and couplings leaving you with astronomical plumbing repair bills. All this can be avoided with a little planning ahead.

Insulating pipes for the cold weather is fairly easy and relatively inexpensive. Wrap the pipes with a type of foam that is taped down with duct tape, available at most hardware stores. Since the frost can reach as far as one foot underground, exposed pipes need to be wrapped to below ground level.

Garden hoses should be disconnected and brought indoors or into sheds. You can turn off the water flow to outside garden fixtures for the winter using a valve that is usually under your sink. If you don't shut off the water, these outside fixtures can also be wrapped for the winter as well.

If you are leaving for the winter, turn off the water and then turn on the faucets to run all the excess water out of the pipes before you go. Water standing in pipes can freeze and expand, causing a great deal of damage. Any structures that are not heated should also be winterized, such as sheds, pump houses, and garages.

Insulated pipes

Insulated pipes

My Experience

I remember the Christmas Eve when we awoke to no water. Sure enough, the freeze had been hard enough to burst our pumphouse pipes, even here in California where we didn’t expect snow. There was nothing to be done but call a plumber and pay the price to have the pipes mended and then wrapped well. Christmas Eve prices for plumbers are not fun to pay. We learned a hard lesson that year.


Share Your Suggestions!

Do you have any repair suggestions to help people save money? I would love to hear about them in the comments below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on June 19, 2019:

Dhan Goel,

How awesome. You should write about how you do it and how you keep your plants healthy. I would love to read it myself. Thanks for commenting.



Dhan Goel on June 19, 2019:

I am a retired old person, have a small kitchen garden in my yard.Not professional but have hobby of gardening.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on June 15, 2019:

Thank you, Larry. I appreciate it.



Larry Slawson from North Carolina on June 12, 2019:

Thank you for sharing :) Good advice!

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on June 08, 2019:

Thanks, James. I'm so happy to be a reminder that resources are out there for us. Thanks for commenting.



James C Moore from Joliet, IL on June 07, 2019:

Thanks to your hub, I'll start checking out you tube for more things than just music and sports. Good solid advice.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on June 07, 2019:

Linda Lum,

That sounds great. I can't wait to read it myself. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on June 07, 2019:

Rachel Alba,

You are right. That is good advice to keep the pipes clear and cleaned every month. Thanks for sharing that. In my family it is reversed: I'm the handyman and my husband isn't that great with tools but he does his best when he can. Thanks for commenting.



Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on June 07, 2019:

John Coviello,

Absolutely, John. Having YouTube is like giving everyone the benefit of having a plumber for a dad and coach. Awesome resources. Thanks for commenting.



Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on June 07, 2019:

All good advice, and you've just scratched the surface. I think the most important thing to remember as a homeowner is preventive maintenance. Vacuum the refrigerator coils. Change your furnace filters regularly, etc. And there is a list of things one should never flush down the toilet or run down the garbage disposer. (I'm writing on the latter one as we speak).

Rachel Alba on June 07, 2019:

Hi Denise, Anytime you can do something yourself is a plus, especially with prices today and if you are on a fixed income like we are. My husband is handy with tools, but not me. One thing he always says is keep the drains clean and that saves the pipes. He cleans the drains with drain cleaners once a month. You would be surprised how much hair clogs the drains. Hope that helps.

John Coviello from New Jersey on June 06, 2019:

Great advice regarding doing your own home repairs to save money. I've done a lot more repairs than I thought I was capable of doing. I once replaced two entire toilets in two bathrooms. That would have cost a lot to have a plumber do the job. The Internet and YouTube are very helpful with DIY projects, pointing out useful shortcuts and pitfalls to avoid. Just do your research before trying a repair.

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