Saving hundreds on home improvements

October 7, 2008 3:54:17 PM PDT
Want to keep more of your hard earned money in your wallet? Who doesn't? So rather than pay other people to fix some common household problems, why not do it yourself? They say knowledge is power. Well in this case, it means big savings, even if you are not a handy person or you get intimated by the thought of tools and unfamiliar territory in and around your home. Just knowing some basics could save you hundreds of dollars. We went along with the experts to show us just how.

John Skiptunas has more than 20 years of plumbing experience under his belt. His most common call is to fix the garbage disposal.

"You may be very well able to un-jam it yourself without having to call the plumber," he said.

Skiptunas says before you call the professionals, you may want to troubleshoot it yourself. But safety first. Never put your hand down the drain into the disposal.

"There is a reset button at the bottom of every disposal," he said.

First, it's important to note that every garbage disposal has two key components -- a reset button and a wrench hole, both located on the bottom of the unit under the sink. Skiptunas says to start by first pressing the reset button. That may instantly fix the problem. But if that doesn't work, use a wrench, a tool that comes with every unit.

"It fits perfectly and then you would rotate the crank back and forth until the disposal is free of whatever was obstruction was jamming it," said Skiptunas.

When it dislodges, your problem is fixed. The service call to reset the button and/or un-jam the disposal is $65! If you want to install a new shower head, Skiptunas says this is also an easy do-it-yourselfer.

"Some shower heads require a pair of pliers. Some require a press wrench," said Skiptunas.

Use your tool to unscrew the old shower head off, take off the old sealant tape, add new sealant and screw the new shower head on. The key in the project is to make sure the equipment has been tightened up so there are no leaks.

"It's pretty easy," said Skiptunas. "It also helps to have the right tools."

You save $175 for installing your own shower head. But what about fixing a common drywall problem yourself like a small hole?

"You don't have to be a professional to fix this job," said Vinnie Covarrubias with EN Drywall.

Covarrubias says the first thing you need to do is cut a square piece of drywall. Measure that piece and trace it on the wall. Use a dry wall knife to cut the dry wall out and then secure the new piece with nails. Use putty to start patching it up, joint tape to keep it reinforced and finish up with more putty.

And another $150 savings!

Altogether, our four common household repairs we just talked about would have saved us $455.

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