Maintaining a home, especially an older one, can be expensive. According to experts, homeowners should be prepared to spend roughly one percent of their home’s value every year on maintenance and repair. Want to keep some of that money and save yourself from common predicaments? Get familiar with these simple fixes and useful skills.

  1. Repair a leaky faucet. This issue often relates to worn or disintegrating parts. First, shut off the main water supply, then remove the knobs and check the washers, stems and O-rings for signs of damage. Take the suspected culprits with you to the hardware store to get exact replacements.
  2. Stop a running toilet. Remove the lid to the tank and inspect all the parts. Check the flush lever, rubber flapper, lift chain, float ball, pump and overflow tube. A running toilet usually requires a simple adjustment or replacement of a single part.
  3. Clean the gutters. Remove leaves and debris from gutters at least twice a year to prevent damage to your home’s foundation, siding and landscaping. There are various methods and tools you can use to clean them out; in most cases, you’ll need a ladder, gloves and eye protection.
  4. Open a garage door when the power is out. Locate the (usually red) cord, suspended from the ceiling-mounted operator. With the garage door closed, pull the cord to disengage the door from the motor. This will allow you to manually open and close the garage door by sliding it along the track.
  5. Remove a stripped screw. If a screw keeps slipping while you’re trying to remove it with a screwdriver, stop immediately to avoid making it worse. Put a rubber band or a piece of steel wool over the screw and then try to remove it. If that doesn’t work, you can use a screw extractor.

Master these essential homeowner skills and keep the money you would otherwise spend on simple home maintenance.

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