DIY Home Repair Guide: Learn How to Make Repairs Around Your Home at ACME HOW TO.com
The day I found myself trying to whack a three-inch nail right into a cemented wall using the heel of a Manolo Blahnik platform shoe in a grotty Hong Kong guest house, I had a Joycean epiphany: every body should own a hammer. Not just a hammer but also a power drill, screwdrivers, a solid set of pliers, and a wrench.
A basic household toolbox opens up your world. It means not having to wait around for someone else to hang a mirror, fix a screen, or tighten a door hinge for you. A car needs a manual, maps, a flashlight, and a repair kit. Your bag should hold a Swiss army knife, a tape measure, a mobile phone, and a mini maglite. With those tools, no matter where you are, you can see what you’re doing, know where you’re going, take measure of what you need, and be able to open a bottle of wine in the middle of nowhere.
Nothing feels better than being able to say, “I can handle this.”
People living alone,
GET A GRIP
Being handy is a matter of following simple imperatives — a combination of common sense and practical get-down-on-your-hands-and-knees experience.
1. Adopt the physician’s creed: Do no harm. There’s no sense in trying to take apart a bathroom faucet if you can’t tell a washer from a valve seat. A botched job may seriously complicate the plumber’s task and turn your attempt at thrift into a nasty surprise.
2. Be realistic. Very intelligent people sometimes believe they can figure out anything, given the inclination. But electrical wiring is not logic or psychology. Learn how. Don’t try to wing it.
3. Make a friend at your hardware store or home supply outlet. The staff in these places are great resources for selecting the right tools and materials for your project, and good ones will even give you tips on how to do the job.
4. Read the directions. They may be written in Pidgin, but the directions for the tool, adhesive, or replacement part can keep you out of trouble. Ditto on diagrams.
5. OWN A REAL TOOLBOX. You need more than the few tools you stuff into your junk drawer. Get yourself a divided toolbox and start filling it with real tools. For the women, don’t let anyone sell you a “lady’s tool kit.” Fuck that. Assemble a basic toolbox like the one here, and you’ll be equipped to tackle just about anything that needs fixing.
As part of your basic training for emergencies, you need to find out where your utility shutoffs are located.
Electric. Inside the house, near where the main power line enters, you’ll find an electrical panel. This wall box contains the main shutoff that will turn off all power in the house at once. Open the panel and you’ll see rows of fuses and circuit breakers, which functions as safety devices that prevent the electrical circuits from overloading or shorting and igniting. Before you attempt any electrical repairs, you must switch off the appropriate circuit breaker or remove the appropriate fuse, or turn off the main electrical switch.
Water. The water shutoff may be found inside or outside the house, usually near the entry point of the pipe to the house. The valve handle usually turns clockwise to shut off. Each sink or appliance may have its own shutoff, usually located on the feeder pipe beneath the sink, or behind appliances where they connect to the water.
Gas. Next to the gas meter is a pipe that feeds gas into the house. The shutoff valve is located on that very pipe. A slot on top of the valve is in a vertical position when the gas is on. This valve must be turned with a wrench until the slot is parallel to the ground to turn off the gas.