The first of 47 skills that the website for the “This Old House” TV show says a young homebuyer might need is the knowledge of how to fix a leaky faucet.
“Too bad a house doesn’t come with an owner’s manual. And a week-long seminar where you learn what every button, switch and wire is for,” says an article—“47 Skills You Need to Survive Homeownership”—at ThisOldHouse.com. “Alas, the keys to the castle come with no troubleshooting guide to dog-ear—and, we’re betting, no wise master to unlock the mysteries of the place you call home.”
How to stop the steady drip is not something normally learned in a classroom.
Neither are stopping a continually running toilet and replacing a broken electrical outlet—along with knowing where to shut off the water and which circuit breaker to turn on or off, which are other useful skills that fall into the “I wish they taught that in school” category.
In case you didn’t learn it from a textbook, we’ll let the experts teach you how to complete these three home ownership tasks.
Fixing A Faucet
HomeDepot.com offers an excellent step-by-step process for fixing this problem.
First, shut off your water. There might be a valve under your sink that regulates the water supply. If you don’t have individual shut-off valves, head down to the basement to turn off the water supply to the entire house. Then drain the remaining water in the line into your sink.
Second, remove the faucet handle.
“If there is a set screw behind the handle, insert a hex key or Allen wrench into the screw and turn it to remove,” say the fix-it people at Home Depot. “If the handle has a top screw cover, pry it off with a flat screwdriver. … Then, use a Phillips head screwdriver to loosen the screw underneath the cover.”
Third, using a crescent wrench, loosen the packing nut beneath the handle, explains the website, and remove the cartridge by pulling straight up. Install a new cartridge. (Make sure you clean and dry the handle area and replace any worn O-rings.)
Finally reattach the faucet handle, turn the water back on, and see evidence of your success.
Stopping A Running Toilet
According to TodaysHomeowner.com, there are a couple of simple fixes.
“It may be that the flapper isn’t sealing correctly or that the fill valve is improperly adjusted,” the website suggests. “If the flapper is warped or damaged, it’s pretty easy to replace.”
Turn off the water again—usually beside the toilet—and empty the tank by flushing it.
“Then disconnect the flapper from the flush chain and unsnap it from the flush tower. Snap on a new flapper and re-connect the chain before turning back on the water.”
If, instead, water is continually running down the overflow tube, adjust the fill valve, says the website.
“Turning the adjustment screw on the valve in one direction raises the water level and the other direction lowers it. The ideal level for a toilet tank is about an inch below the top of the overflow tube.”
Replacing An Outlet
OK, before we get started, we should note that an article at a website called TheArtOfDoingStuff.com told us in upper case letters earlier this year to TURN THE POWER OFF.
“Just cut the breaker to the whole house if you aren’t sure about which breaker or fuse powers the outlet you’re working on,” said the website in a posting in March 2020.
The rest of the steps will seem a lot less daunting when you don’t risk death by electrocution.
• Take off the face plate to the electrical outlet.
• Remove the outlet from its box by unscrewing it.
• Unscrew, just a bit, the screws holding the wires and remove those wires.
All right, here’s where it gets a little tricky, which TheArtOfDoingStuff.com emphasizes with more capital letters.
“Now is the time to talk about the scary GROUNDING WIRE,” the website notes. “Here are two things you need to know.”
The ground wire will either be green or copper. Ground it to the box and the outlet, advises the website.
“Attach your (other) wires to the new outlet,” concludes the website, noting that black wire goes to the brass screw, the white wire goes to the silver screw, and the ground wire goes to the green screw.
Finally, screw your outlet back into the box, cover it with the face plate and then turn your power back on. If whatever you plug in works, give yourself at least a “B” in this class.
If, however, you don’t feel confident in doing any of this “stuff,” as the latter website calls it, you can do one of two things.
You can visit any of the three websites and read more complete instructions about these fixes or watch videos that will show you how to do the jobs.
Or, you just can call a plumber or an electrician. But, wouldn’t that diminish your feeling of accomplishment?