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Essential home repairs anyone can do — Popular Mechanics How to Fix Anything

January 28, 2019

Well, “anyone” is a bit of a stretch, at least for some of the directions. When the instructions for fixing a running toilet say, “Remove the diaphragm screws and look for sand or mineral grit around the diaphragm seat,” some of us need to be pointed directly to the diaphragm. (Toilets have diaphragms?)

Still, there’s plenty of very useful info in this DIY book, and I have to agree with their opening statement that, “We all want to be capable.” Many of the instructions are for super-simple fixes (think wrapping your showerhead in vinegar-filled plastic to de-clog it), many are for things I would find slightly challenging but rewarding when I nailed them (replacing grout or learning to caulk nicely), and a few (like a faulty shower diverter) I wouldn’t tackle without a little more experience under my toolbelt. Still, the directions are good—and there are plenty of helpful photos.

“Anything” is also a bit of stretch. The book isn’t encyclopedic, and some might find what the authors chose to include a little odd at times (broken tent poles and moles in the yard?). But as long as you don’t expect to find everything you’d ever need to know about repairing anything you’d ever need to repair, it’s a good resource.

Here’s a list of sections and some of what’s included, to give you an idea of the kinds of projects you’ll find:

  • Bathroom—loose towel bars, dripping faucets, dirty grouting, and that running toilet
  • Kitchen—stinky garbage disposal, faulty dishwasher, problem drawers, leaky faucets
  • Walls, Ceiling and Floors—holes in drywall, wobbly ceiling fan, shadow lines on ceiling joists
  • Furniture and Fixtures (a favorite chapter)—dented wood, stripped screw hole, sagging shelves, dead outlets, wobbly furniture
  • Gadgets—phones and drones
  • Basement and Mechanicals—wet crawlspace, banging pipes, old tool restoration, broken Christmas lights
  • Garage and Driveway—slick garage floor, cracks in drive
  • Yard—stains on vinyl siding, replacing posts, damaged shingles, broken windowpane, mower maintenance

The advice itself is practical and complete. For inexperienced carpenters, the directions for things like removing nails and screws (I learned there are special tools for this!) are very helpful.

My favorite sections—scattered throughout the book—are the “Essential Tools” and “Know your Stuff” tutorials. There’s one on screws, for example, with clear pictures of types and descriptions of what they’re for and how to use them. Other topics include marking implements, pipes and fittings, painter’s knives, adhesives, and chisels. I’ll be upgrading my toolbox and tucking a copy of this inside (it’s a handy size, about 7×9 inches)!

Do you have a favorite resource for learning repairs? Please share!

By Karen Mary

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