Thoughtful Thursday: Basic Tasks Every Homeowner Should Know How to Do

There's no landlord, building superintendent or a home owner’s manual to refer to or call for help after purchasing a home! As a homeowner, it is a good thing to learn to handle some basic problems before shelling out hundreds if not thousands of dollars for professional help. When purchasing a home, we have so much to think of that some of these little things are not some we may think of right away. And yes, these may sound like simplistic ideas, but knowing these can be extremely helpful not only for your health but for your pocket as well!

1. Change HVAC filter

Your HVAC filter should be changed quarterly to keep your system running smoothly and cut energy bills. It is surprising how much this small task will save you in the long run. For those with allergies or pets it is recommended to change air filters every 30 to 90 days.

2. Fix a leaking faucet

Leaky faucets can be a nightmare in the middle of the night, the sound of drip…drip…drip! This is an easy fix for anyone handy, since most leaky faucets are due to failure of the faucet’s seats and springs. Make sure you have an Allen wrench, needle-nose pliers, tongue-and-groove pliers and a screwdriver. Visit

which will show you step by step how to fix a leaky faucet.

3. How to turn off your gas/detect a gas leak

This is incredibly important to know how to do. Of course in the case that you smell gas, leave your home and call your gas company immediately. It’s also important to know how to turn off the gas yourself in case you need to.

When moving into your home, you should make sure you are aware of where the gas meter is. The shut-off valve is usually located outside at the meter and will require an adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench to turn the valve a quarter turn in either direction. When the valve head is parallel to the pipe, it is in the OPEN position. Turn the valve head so it is perpendicular to the pipe, and in the OFF position.

4. Finding a wall stud

A much lesser important maintenance skill to know, but a skill that can always save you time and money is having a stud finder. These are very inexpensive and can will be extremely useful when anchoring furniture, hanging shelves, a TV etc.

It is helpful to know that studs are almost always spaced either 16 or 24 inches apart. So by starting at a corner, where there’s always a stud, you should hit a stud every 16 inches or 24 inches around your initial stud.

5. Caulk and seal cracks

Caulking will fill gaps and cracks to keep air, water and bugs out of your home. Usually this is done around windows, doors, pipes and walls.

Caulk will come in a cartridge or a squeeze tube. A cartridge and caulk gun will give you a more continuous bead while a squeeze tube of caulk is better for smaller projects.

The two most common caulks are latex and silicone. Latex caulk is semi-permanent, has minimal odor and can be cleaned easily with soap and water. Silicone caulk is more difficult to apply and only some can be painted. It does require mineral spirits to clean up but can hold up in extreme temperatures and lasts longer overall. Which with our Wisconsin winters this is a good option!

It is always a good idea to keep a squeeze tube of caulk on hand, it will always come in handy for small projects such as plugging up small holes in walls etc.

6. Unclogging a Sink

If you have a clogged sink, skip the chemical drain cleaner, they most likely not fix anything. Your problem may be a blocked P-trap. Place a bucket under the sink and look for the U-Shaped pipe. Unscrew the connectors securing the pipe to the sink drain and the wall, and check for obstructions. If the p-trap isn’t clogged, there’s probably GUNK inside the drain. For that issue a handy little item you can get at any hardware store is a snake. You will push it into the drain while cranking the handle. The cranking causes the snake to spin around in your pipe, grabbing onto obstructions or scraping gunk out of the pipe. Now if this does not fix your issue, maybe its best to call a professional!

7. Cleaning Gutters

It is imperative that the gutters get cleared twice a year to prevent pests and since we live in Wisconsin, ice dams. You can always remove leaves by hand or with the assistance of a leaf blower, garden hose, or wet-dry vac. Do make sure that when you are up on a ladder you use a stabilizer. If ladders are not your thing, you can still get the job done with a special attachments for your leaf blower or wet-dry vac.

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