Running toilet got you searching for contractors again? Many professionals charge a 2-hour or half-day minimum for small jobs, which can cost you hundreds of dollars for a repair that would otherwise be relatively inexpensive to address. So, if you have some free time and a little elbow grease — and you aren’t scared of chatting with the folks at your local hardware store — here are some simple home repairs you can totally take on yourself.

1. Patching a screen 

Patching or even replacing a door or window screen is not a terribly difficult endeavor. You won’t need much — usually just the patching material, a speed square, a utility knife, and scissors. Most hardware stores sell fiberglass screening material in rolls (along with a tool for setting the screen into the groove that holds it in place). Smaller holes and tears can be easily patched with aluminum or fiberglass screen door patch kits.

2. Repairing drywall

Dents, holes, and scrapes in the wall can usually be fixed with nothing more than a little topping compound or spackling paste and a putty knife. Clean the area of loose material, spread the compound or spackling material, and let dry. Once dry, sand the area flat, prime it, paint it, and voila!

3. Fixing a Running Toilet

Don’t assume a running toilet means a major plumbing issue. Usually, only the flush mechanism or flapper inside the toilet tank has gone bad. Take the top off the tank and take a look inside. If the flapper (that thing that looks like a trap door at the bottom) is not seating properly or closing fully after a flush, it’s probably time to replace it. Take a picture of the mechanism and head to the hardware store. Buy a new flapper, shut off the water at the little valve behind your toilet, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the new one.

4. Repairing Dripping Faucets or Shower Heads

A dripping faucet can be fixed in an afternoon with a couple of trips to the hardware store and some patience. Most of the time, the culprit is a worn out washer or o-ring. The fix requires taking the faucet handle apart, finding the offending part, and going to the hardware store for a replacement. Once you’ve got your replacement, reinstall the parts in reverse order, applying a little plumber’s grease if the valve seems sticky.

Now that you’ve saved money on small home repairs, think about saving even more on your homeowners insurance. Get a quote and see how much you could save.   

DIY hacks | Home and garden


about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.