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Three Repairs You Don't Need a Pro For

By Brett Freeman
Three Repairs You Don't Need a Pro For

When something breaks in your home, it's easy to feel out of your element when contemplating the repair. Working with electricity can be intimidating if you've never done it before. And every family has a story about a relative who was going to fix a leaky faucet--and ended up doing thousands of dollars of damage. But some seemingly complicated repairs are actually quite simple, and you can save hundreds of dollars by tackling them yourself.

Don't Bother Diagnosing a Broken Doorbell

The bad news is that there are a bunch of reasons why your doorbell stopped working. The sound mechanism could be shot; the wiring could have shorted out; the push button could have failed. The good news is that it doesn't matter why it stopped working because you can replace it with a wireless doorbell. Wireless doorbells are available in a wide range of styles and tones, and you can install them in minutes. They're also inexpensive, so replacing the old doorbell will almost certainly cost less than hiring someone to fix the old one.

Is Your Toilet Running? You Can Catch it.

The modern toilet was invented nearly 300 years ago. There have been some improvements made since then--but not many. They still function in basically the same way--a valve opens, allowing water to rush into a basin and flush away the waste. It is a simple operation and, as a result, toilet repair is often also simple. If there is water constantly running from the tank into the bowl, the problem is likely a damaged flush valve or flapper. You can check this by lifting up the ball float in the toilet tank. If you can still see water draining into a bowl, you need to replace the filler valve. A replacement kit costs under $5 and takes about 10 minutes to install.

If the water stops draining into the bowl when you lift the ball float, then the float is likely sitting too low (if it doesn't float high enough, the filler valve never shuts off, and water continues to flow into the bowl through the overflow tube). Minor adjustments can be made by unscrewing the ball valve a few turns. If this doesn't work, a replacement ball float kit costs under $10. And if you don't even want to bother diagnosing the problem, you can get a complete toilet repair kit for about $20 and replace all of the parts in less than an hour.

Garbage Disposals: Scary, But Easy to Fix

No one possessing even a mediocre imagination would ever want to stick their hand into a garbage disposal. But that's fine--for most repairs, you don't have to. If your garbage disposal has abruptly stopped working, the most common problem is that something got jammed between the aptly-named “masher” and the shredder plate through which it mashes things. For most models, there is an Allen wrench port at the bottom that connects to the masher. Using an Allen wrench you can jiggle the masher and free whatever has become jammed. Most disposals also shut off automatically when they become jammed. In the general vicinity of the Allen wrench port you can also find a reset button that you need to push before the disposal operates again.

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