Monday, July 30, 2007

Home Repairs: When to DIY; When to Hire a Pro

When our sliding glass door gets stuck, my husband blasts the track with WD-40, a popular lubricant. But not all home repairs are so simple. Home improvement experts offer these guidelines.

There are a number of basic repairs that homeowners should master, according to Stefano Bello, manager at A1 America's Handyman in Miami. ''A normal person should be able to patch a wall,'' Bello said. Painting and pressure-washing of outdoor walls are other simple tasks.

Here are some additional DIY projects:
• Fix a loose or stuck toilet handle. The online how-to library at Lowe's ( has an extensive and illustrated primer on the mechanics of different repairs. To repair a toilet handle, for example, Lowe's outlines these steps: 1) Take off the tank cover; 2) Remove any buildup or residue from ''the mounting nut,'' which is inside the tank, just behind the handle. Apply vinegar with a brush to remove limestone crust from the mounting nut. 3) Check the tension in the handle chain. Loosen or tighten the chain by hooking the chain on a different link.

• Basic drain repairs. Consumers should be able to clear drains with a plunger or replace drain traps. For those tasks and other basic plumbing projects, Home Depot has a step-by-step guide at, click on "know how" guide.

For these next three projects, follow directions that come with the product. If you still have questions, call the toll-free number or ask for help at a hardware store:
• Change door knobs and locks.
• Remove and replace a sink faucet.
• Install a sink stopper.

Consider A Pro
Attempt these intermediate-level jobs if you have the necessary skills, knowledge and equipment:
• Insulation installation. A novice should not attempt to handle and install fiberglass insulation in walls or a roof. ''You have to know how to protect your hands and your eyes,'' Bello said.
• Bathroom tiles.
• Tub installations.
• Low-voltage installations. Home Depot offers an online guide for installing a telephone extension and a jack for cable television.

Hire a Pro
• Installation of windows or glass sliding doors.
• Electrical installations of major fixtures or wiring

This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.

The Frugal Duchess Booktique
The Frugal Duchess of Beauty Store

Book Shop of Fear
The Poetry & Drama Queen
Frugal Jazz & Blues
Frugal Comic Book Connection

1 comment:

Matt said...

The big thing to remember is if you use a pro you can potentially increase the value of your home rather than just getting it done.