4 Minor Home Catastrophes and How to Fix Them

The minute you become a homeowner, you go through a fundamental shift of responsibility. Rather than getting to call a landlord every time something goes wrong, you’re the one who has to take care of it. Here are a few of the problems you may encounter and what you need to do about them.

Dripping Faucet or Toilet: This is probably one of the most common problems, but the good news is that you can take care of most types of minor plumbing repairs on your own. A common cause for dripping faucets is a faulty seal; as long as it’s not the pipes themselves that are leaking or dripping, you can replace the seals to stop the drip. Start by turning off the water to that particular faucet or toilet. Then take apart the faucet handle and replace the washer; with a toilet, replace the valve at the bottom of the tank.

Termites: Suspecting you have a infestation of these little critters feels like one of the scariest types of home problems, and if left unchecked for years, a colony of termites can cause significant damage. However, if you spot the problem early, it’s not a huge problem to fix. If you’ve found termites around your house, it’s time to call in a professional. They may inject liquid termiticide around your house or set up bait stations outside your home to kill the termites. Then you just need to replace damaged wood.

Electrical Outlet Not Working: If you plug something in and it doesn’t work, it’s time to troubleshoot the issue. Unplug any appliances in the outlet, and then go check your electrical panel to see if there’s a tripped breaker. Flip it back to its normal position and see if that solves the problem. If not, you may need to call in an electrician. It’s possible you might have to replace a circuit breaker or two, or you may have problems with the wiring.

Uneven Heat or Cooling Distribution: You may notice that some rooms of your house are significantly warmer in the summer and colder in the winter. First, check the vents to make sure they’re fully open in the rooms that need more air and slightly closed in rooms that get plenty of air. If this doesn’t fix the problem, find where the cold or hot air is leaking in from outside and either add insulation or replace seals around windows and doors—a fairly easy project you can often do yourself.

You’ll probably develop lots of do-it-yourself skills as a homeowner because learning how to fix certain problems yourself can be both simpler and less expensive. However, there are some times when you will need to call in a professional to handle the issue in a safe and successful way. Be aware of your limitations and don’t be afraid to hire a pro when the problem is outside your comfort zone.