Your Guide to Fixing Common House Problems

Your Guide to Fixing Common House Problems

Small Projects and Repairs
Appraisal and Home Inspection
By Dikran Seferian November 02, 2021

Occasionally, a homeowner may come across a leaking faucet or a flickering light. As inconvenient as it may be, it's actually a normal part of any household. In many cases, such as bathroom mold, it might simply be nature taking its course. Much to our delight, these ordinary issues typically have simple household solutions. As a matter of fact, many of the fixes which we tend to postpone for days or even weeks may actually take less than five minutes. While it is common for problems around the house to occur every once in a while, solving them is important for your own convenience, safety, as well as comfort.

Sink Draining Water Too Slowly

You’re done washing your hands and you notice that it’s taking a little too much time for the water to drain. The issue is most likely a partially clogged sink. This is actually a fairly common problem resulting from a buildup of soap residue, shaving foam, and other products on the drain walls. Luckily, such an issue typically doesn’t warrant calling a plumber or going for commercial drain openers. With a few simple home remedies, you can drain the problem away in no time.

One quick fix involves pouring half a cup of baking soda into the drain and following it up with half a cup of white vinegar. Once the fizzing and bubbling start, consider blocking the drain with a rag to contain the chemical reaction; and just wait a few minutes for your household ingredients to work their wonders. Next, pour a pitcher of boiling water to drain the melted sludge away.

Simple Ways to Unclog a Drain

Simple Ways to Unclog a Drain

Another culprit for a slow-draining sink might be strands of hair and possibly other debris left in the drain. In this case, your go-to solution can be a hair-clog tool. Remove the sink stopper (the metal tail that extends slightly into the pipe) and run the tool down the drain. Give it a wiggle and fish out anything that gets hooked.

At times, the clog may be located further down the drain, in which case you’ll need to bring out the almighty plunger. After blocking the overflow hole, place the plunger over the drain and fill the sink with water. Plunge the drain until the clog is dislodged. Another tool you can use for deep clogs is a snake — No, not the reptile. Also known as a drain auger, a snake is a metal cable that can extend up to 20 feet. This unclogging tool has a spiral at the other end where it catches any blockages in its path. After removing the stopper, run the snake down the drain until it reaches the clog. Crank the handle and wiggle it until the clog is dislodged. If all else fails, a plumber might be your last card to play.

Squeaky Sound from Door

Nothing can be more annoying than a squeaky door, especially when it’s in constant use. One widely used solution is WD-40. There are, however, several other household items that you’ll find to be more effective. Should you be dealing with a creaking door, consider going for soap, petroleum jelly, or paraffin wax. For the best results, pull the pinout of the hinge and coat it with the product you’re using. Once you replace the hinge pin, your door should be squeak-free.

Common Solutions for a Squeaky Door

Common Solutions for a Squeaky Door

Toilet Flush Handle is Broken

One rather awkward situation is when you’re done with your business in the toilet and the flush handle decides to break. While your first instinct might be to call the plumber, you can save money by handling the issue yourself. First, remove the lid off the tank and unhook the chain. With a wrench, unscrew the nut that holds the handle from inside the tank. Take the broken handle with you to your local home improvement shop to make sure you find a similar one that’s compatible with your toilet. Reassemble the components and do a couple of test flushes. Once everything is in check, you can finally flush away your troubles — among other things.

Bathroom Repairs Homeowners Can Do

Bathroom Repairs Homeowners Can Do

Faucet Keeps Leaking

Imagine you’re trying to get some sleep and you can’t help but hear that dripping sound coming from the bathroom. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to ignore it. Whether it’s a steady dripping or a more constant leaking, you may be dealing with a worn O-ring or cartridge. If your sink features two separate knobs (for hot and cold), open and close them one at a time to find out which one is causing the leak. Remove the faulty knob in order to replace the cartridge or the O-ring. While you can install an entirely new faucet, replacing spare parts — if possible — is usually a less expensive solution.

How to Fix a Dripping Faucet

How to Fix a Dripping Faucet

Lights Flickering in House

A seemingly odd issue you may come across can be flickering lights — Don’t worry, though, your house isn’t haunted. Depending on the type of light fixture you have, there are a few reasons behind this issue. The most common type of bulbs that tend to flicker are fluorescent ones. This is due to several factors such as cold temperatures and the way phosphors generally power up. In most cases, flickering fluorescents aren’t anything to be concerned about. As for LED lights, the problem can be traced to dimmer switches. Dimmers are typically designed to handle higher loads, which may not be compatible with the LED’s low voltage. In this case, consider cross-checking your dimmer make and model for compatibility.

Whatever type of fixture you have, a very simple fix that almost always does the trick is the old “righty-tighty”. In many instances, flickering lights are due to loose bulbs, which can be fixed by simply tightening them. Make sure to turn off the switch and use a protective glove before you touch the bulb. Another issue that causes lights to flicker might be a faulty switch or a loose plug. If you wiggle the switch and it causes a flicker, then replacing it may solve the problem. As for a loose plug, you can fix the issue by adjusting its prongs. Other causes of flickering such as old or faulty wiring, connectors, and breakers are best handled by an electrician.

Doorbell Not Ringing

If you’re wondering why your guest just knocked on the door instead of ringing the doorbell, maybe you should check if that the bell is ringing at all. It’s not? No need to worry because fixing a doorbell is actually a piece of cake. Simply remove the screws from the doorbell panel and detach the button from the wires. Touch the open ends of the wires together and you’d hear the bell. Replace the old button with a new one as per the instructions and your doorbell should be good to go.

Simple Guide to Repairing Your Doorbell

Simple Guide to Repairing Your Doorbell

Toilet is Running

A rather inconvenient problem is when your toilet starts running — and no, you don’t chase it. Although it may seem like a plumber’s job, you may not actually have the time to call one in. Fixing a running toilet is actually a pretty straightforward procedure. In this scenario, the most likely culprit is the flapper. Just to make sure, however, pour some food coloring into the tank and wait. If the coloring ends up in the bowl, then you’ll need to replace the flapper.

First, shut off the water to the toilet (the valve beneath the tank). Drain all the remaining water by flushing the toilet and removing the flapper. Note how the flapper is connected to the bottom of the tank and make sure the replacement is compatible. Install the new component according to the instruction manual. You may need to add or remove chain links in order to achieve the ideal distance between the flapper and the flush handle.

Chasing Your Toilet Problems Away

Chasing Your Toilet Problems Away

Mold Building Up in Shower 

Since shower cabinets can be rather humid, they are perfect environments for mold to grow in. You can see them on caulking, around drains, and among tiles. Black mold, for instance, can be quite unsightly and is known to have toxic properties. However, getting rid of this dreadful substance is exceptionally simple. All you need is white vinegar and a spray bottle. Mix two parts of water with one part white vinegar in a spray bottle and mist the mixture at the mold. Wait for a few minutes until it begins to fade away. Remove any remaining stubborn mold with an old toothbrush and rinse the surface clean. Alternatively, you can get rid of the nasty stuff with baking soda. Simply mix it with water to make a paste and apply it to the mold. After a few minutes, scrub it off with a brush and rinse thoroughly. 

Blown Fuse in House

Having a blown fuse just when you're about to enjoy a cup of coffee out of your new espresso machine can be rather frustrating. Usually, in this case, you may get a partial power-out rather than a total one — mainly due to an overload on the fuse. Bear in mind that when a fuse blows, it's actually a safety precaution that prevents fires resulting from overloaded wires.

Switch off all the lights and unplug all the appliances in the power-outed section of your house. Make sure to take all the safety measures when working with electricity. Cut the current to the fuse box by turning off the main power switch. It would help if the components in the panel are clearly labeled as to which zone they control. Unscrew the damaged fuse on which you may notice discoloration and cloudiness. Make sure the replacement is of the same size, rating, amperage, and type. Install the new fuse into the same socket and switch the power back on. If the fuse blows again, consider calling an electrician. 

Sewer Smell in House

While the smell of sewage in a house can be a significant issue, in many cases, the solution can be quite easy. One common case has to do with the water traps. Also known as P or S-traps due to their shape, these curved pipes are found underneath sinks and near floor drains. Their purpose is to trap water in the curve, therefore preventing gas from sewers from making its way into your house. If the trap happens to dry out, the path will be open for the sewage gases. This happens when the sink has been idle for a while or the air is considerably dry. If the source of the stench is the sink, running the water for a few seconds will refill the trap. If it's coming from the floor drain, you can fix the issue by pouring a pitcher of water into it. Other cases such as a septic pipe leak, however, could be more serious and may warrant an experienced plumber or perhaps a home inspector.

DS

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian

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