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10 Tips From A Professional Handyman: Common Home Fix-It Points That Actually Help

Need a professional handyman to fix that project you’ve been putting off?

Sometimes you just get stuck–you don’t know how to fix a problem, or the same issue keeps coming up no matter how many times you fix it.

I’ve had a lot of personal experience with home projects. I think I’m quite good at fixing things and consider myself a handyman. 

But I decided to reach out to a pro and ask them for tips on common home project/home improvement/ “please help me fix this” kind of things we all come up against. 

I wanted a professional handyman to weigh in for all of us. I was able to fact check some of the fix-it tips I’d heard through the years and learned some new things too.

The professional handyman I interviewed gave these tips about common home fix-it questions. Hope they help you out!

Professional Handyman Tip #1: Purchase The Highest Quality Items You Can Afford

It’s always tempting to get the cheapest option and save money. 

And while I don’t advocate buying the most expensive item (sometimes the priciest item isn’t even the best quality), it’s absolutely worth it to invest in quality. 

You’ll be using these items and interacting with them daily for years. You should love how they look and they should work very well for you for a long time.

I’m guilty of cheaping out before. On paint, actually. I regretted it for two years before I finally went out to buy the better paint (with the color I actually wanted) and repainted. I would have saved money, headache, work, and time if I had just spent 30 more dollars. 

Professional Handyman Tip #2: Clean And Lubricate

Keeping things clean is a simple part of keeping your home in working order. And doing a deeper clean about twice a year will make things look and feel great.

But it’s more than just feeling good. Keeping household items like your hardwood floors, carpet, rugs, furniture, seals, hinges, etc. will keep them healthier and beautiful for longer. You’ll save yourself some handyman repairs with maintenance. 

Same goes for lubrication. A little grease or spray can keep your drawers, rollers, doors, and outside tools on track and working well. Leaving them squeaking or grinding can wear them down faster, which means you’ll have to replace them sooner. 

Another lubrication tip to consider is using a wax like Pledge to keep wood and metal looking nice. It’s also great on tracks. So if you have a sticking or squeaking cabinet, rub some wax on there and it should help. 

Professional Handyman Tip #3: The Care And Maintenance Of Your Garbage Disposal

backsplash diy budget home improvement project

Many people think garbage disposals are mightier than they actually are. 

They’re pickier than you think. Bigger pieces will dull the blades and reduce your disposal’s efficacy over time. 

Generally you should put anything you can pick up in the garbage. The small stuff goes in the disposal.  You should also remember to keep the water running when you use your disposal.

DON’T:

  • This should go without saying, but don’t ever put grease/fat down your disposal or drain. It will harden and clog your drain and pipes. 
  • Do not use bleach to clean your disposal. Bleach actually hardens grease in your drain and pipes. It’s super caustic. It also kills helpful bacteria that you need in your septic holding tank. 
  • Don’t put drain uncloggers down your disposal (like Draino). The chemicals are a no-no for your disposal. 
  • No potato peelings, banana peels, coffee grounds, plastic, metal, paper, fibrous materials (like celery), or large animal bones. This is not a comprehensive list, but you get the idea.

DO:

  • Keep cold water running while you run your disposal and for a while after. Cold water will harden any grease you may have which will help your garbage disposal break them up before they get into the trap.
  • Do grind citrus and vinegar in your disposal to help with some foul smells. 
  • Every now and then throw some ice cubes in to clean and sharpen your blades.
  • Small pieces of food should be fine.
  • Use your degreaser dishwashing detergent to help with odors and clogs. Grease holds the bacteria and food that cause these problems together. So using a degreasing detergent can help.

If your disposal is jammed, our professional handyman says sticking an Alen wrench in the space at the bottom of your disposal and manually moving the blades is a good way to free up your blades. 

If your garbage disposal isn’t grinding, try resetting it. Almost all disposals have a reset button on the motor (usually underneath your sink). If your disposal plugs into a wall outlet, make sure that’s connected. Sometimes things get unplugged. Keep your eye out for a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker. You can also hand crank it with an Alan wrench as mentioned above. 

Professional Handyman Tip #4: The Stuck Door–It’s Super Easy But Not Obvious

Sticky, stuck, stiff, annoying.

If you’ve got a stuck door, simply check out your hinges. 

Sometimes the screws are too short on those things (I’ve made this mistake–but apparently screws that come with the hinges can be too short…weird right? The more you know…). When the screws are too short, it causes the door to move differently, mostly downwards, and so the door gets stuck. 

Our professional handyman recommends replacing those screws with 3 inch screws.

Professional Handyman Tip #5: An Easy Fix For Uneven Heating And Cooling

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this myself. 

Many of us have that one room that is either too hot or too cold depending on the season. You know, that room that has the weak vent.

What I didn’t realize is that you can half close your other vents in the house (keep the weak one wide open), which will redirect your air flow and make it blow harder so it pushes through that vent that doesn’t work as well. In effect you are balancing your system. 

If that’s not good enough, you’ll probably have to install a boosting fan for the weak one or just invest in space heater/coolers.

Professional Handyman Tip #6: Mold And Mildew–Prevent And Remove

To prevent and/or remove mold and mildew, you need to remove excess moisture and any mold growth that has already occurred.

Removing moisture is the number one way to prevent and get rid of mold. Using HEPA filters in your rooms and dehumidifiers will also help take care of excess moisture

Also consider inspecting your home for leaks (roof, basement, plumbing, etc.) and check to see if you need new weatherstirpping. You may need a professional inspection if  you can’t find the source of the mold, or if the problem has become much more worse than what you can see. 

Another thought is to use mold and mildew inhibitors, mildew-cide, in your paint and repaint your home. You can get these in any paint stores for both indoor and outdoor use. One container is usually used per one gallon of paint. You could also simply use an oil paint. While not as good as mildewcide, mold and mildew don’t like oil paints compared to latex paint. 

Bleach is an excellent way to kill mold and prevent further growth. If you have mold or mildew on your walls, you must remove it before painting. There are premixed products, or you can create a DIY mix of half bleach and half water. You apply the solution to your walls, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe the wall clean. 

When you’ve killed the mildew, prime your walls with a primer sealer and then paint. This will seal in any mildew staining and help the paint job look better. 

Professional Handyman Tip #7: Removing Rust, Rust Stains, And Other Discoloration

Rust and discoloration happens. But it’s ugly and really makes a basin look bad.

So how do you get rid of them?

Simply clean the sinks with Barkeeper’s Friend, a chlorine-free bleach, or ZUD (something like these). Dry the basin then put a coat of Sheila Shine or something similar on it. 

Do this a few times a week until your basin is restored and after to maintain it. It’s a miracle worker for those nasty stains without breaking your elbow scrubbing. 

Professional Handyman Tip #8: Clogged Drain–You May Want To Put Down The Chemical Cleaner

Most of the time, mechanically unclogging a drain is preferred to chemical drain cleaning. 

The reason for this is because chemical cleaning doesn’t really do anything against many blockages, especially hair related ones.

The decomposing makeup of the blockage can protect itself just because of its size. And a chemical cleaner may make the clog worse as it can solidify and congeal the blockage. Furthermore, chemical cleaner can loosen your pipe’s “goop” along it’s walls and contribute even more to the blockage. Yuck.

And you should never mix two different cleaners as they may have dangerous interactions with each other or other chemical cleaners you use. 

Definitely nix the chemical cleaner if you have a completely clogged drain. 

Use a light (not professional or acid based) drain cleaner on a monthly basis to stop clogs from forming.

Clean out clogs early on. When you start seeing the drain slow, clean it out. When you leave the growing blockages for longer periods it creates that goop that was referenced earlier. And it can lead to expensive fixes in the future. 

Most clogs are pretty high up in the pipes and are usually easy to clear in a couple different ways. 

Way 1: 

  • Remove the drain plug or stopper. If it doesn’t come out you will have to take out the stopper rod (that rod that moves the stopper up or down). It should be held by a nut that is screwed into the back of your drain, below your sink, but above the trap. 
  • Use a long screwdriver to loosen the blockage (don’t forget to cover the stopper rod opening).
  • Run water through it until it’s flowing freely. Put everything back together and run water through the drain for a while longer. 

Way 2:

  • Better for more complex blockages but more difficult
  • Disassemble the trap under the sink (gives you better access to the pipes)
  • The blockage could just be in the trap (easy, yay!)
  • You may need to use a plumbing snake to unclog the drain
  • Don’t use a plumbing snake in the trap (it’s not recommended anyways). It may work but you may also break the little metal traps and other thin plastic pipes. Instead disassemble the trap as mentioned above.
  • You may have to replace the trap and other associated parts
  • If this fails, you need a professional plumber to help you out. The blockage may be even further underground

Hope these tips help you out in some of the most common home projects. I know I learned something. Best of luck!

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