One of the great things about renting is that when things go wrong in your apartment, it’s not your responsibility. Landlord to the rescue! But sometimes, getting the maintenance crew to your place takes time – and if it’s an emergency, you’re going to have to take matters into your own hands.
Everyone should have a few DIY tricks up their sleeves, including renters. Here are the top 5 things you should be able to do on your own:
1. Unclog a sink/toilet
If your sink is slow to drain, you’ve got a clog. The good news is, it’s probably an easy fix. Just remove the stopper and check out what you’re dealing with. If you’d rather not touch whatever’s causing the clog (because: gross) you can take a metal coat hanger, bend the end into a hook, then reach the hook into the drain and pull out the clog. After you’ve removed it, pour about half a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Let it bubble away for about half an hour, which will give it time to eliminate smells and break down any extra grime down there. Then flush the drain with boiling water and replace the stopper.
If you’ve got a clogged toilet, your DIY fix is still easy. Take your plunger and place it over the hole in the toilet bowl, making sure the water in the bowl comes at least halfway up the rubber cup. If there’s not enough water in the bowl, pour some in. Push the plunger up and down a few times without breaking the seal. Then pull the plunger up sharply to release the suction. This should dislodge the clog, allowing water to fill up the bowl again. If this doesn’t work the first time, try a few more times. If you still have no luck, it’s time to bring out the big guns with a toilet snake – or, better yet, place an emergency call to your apartment community’s maintenance crew.
2. Remove a stripped screw
It happens to the best of us – sometimes, repeated attempts to remove a screw will strip the head, which means there’s little left for your screwdriver to bite. There are quite a few ways to remove a stripped screw, but here’s an easy way: All you need is a screwdriver and a wide rubber band.
Place the rubber band on top of the screw. Press down with your screwdriver, applying slow, hard force as you turn counterclockwise (remember: rightie tightie, leftie loosie.) The rubber band should provide enough grip for the screwdriver to bite the screw, and the turning motion should pull it out.
3. Locate a stud
(Easier said than done – am I right, ladies?)
No, I’m referring to wall studs, which you need to locate if you’re hanging shelving or heavy decorative items on your walls. You can buy a stud finder at any home improvement store for as little as $10. Use it to find the best place to anchor things to your wall, causing minimal damage to your drywall.
A few stud facts:
- There’s always a stud in every corner of a room.
- Studs usually are placed 16 to 24 inches apart.
- Electrical outlets generally are located right next to a stud.
- There are studs on either side of a window.
4. Use a fire extinguisher
If you’ve got a fire on your hands, you definitely don’t want to make a phone call to a maintenance crew – you want to put that fire out immediately. If your apartment contains nothing else, it should contain a working fire extinguisher. Your apartment community should check to make sure all units have one, but you need to check, too.
So what do you do when flames arise? First, don’t panic. Then, remember the acronym PASS:
Pull the pin at the top of the fire extinguisher.
Aim the hose at the base of the fire, not the flames.
Squeeze the lever slowly, releasing the foam in the extinguisher.
Sweep the extinguisher from side to side until the fire is completely out.
5. Find/change a light bulb
Buying light bulbs is more complicated than it used to be. CFL or LED? Warm light or soft light? The choices can be daunting, but a little online research should make the choice easier. Energy Star has a handy guide to help you make the right choice.
Now that light bulbs have become so efficient, you likely won’t have to change them very often. But when you do, the process is the same as it’s always been – turn off the lights, carefully unscrew the old bulb, screw the new one in, then turn the lights back on. Remember to drop off your old bulb for recycling at your local home improvement store.
What DIY skills do you think everyone needs to have? Share in the comments below.
Photo credits: Shutterstock / docent; Flickr / aplumb