Adventures in Home Owning: Outdoor DIY Home Maintenance for Millennials

Nov 19, 2018 | Blog

Dear Homeowner,

Last week we explored a few do-it-yourself home maintenance tips that can save you from having to spend valuable cash in the short term, and prevent you from dealing with larger-scale issues in the long term. This week we’ll be continuing to offer solutions that you can execute yourself, without having to pay for a potentially expensive repairperson or contractor.

If you’ve spent time within a house, owning or renting, there’s no doubt that you have come face to face with a clogged drain. Whether it’s the kitchen sink that takes forever to empty or the shower that develops a thin pool of water during use, we’ve all had the frustration of wishing we could fix the problem without having to hire a plumber or purchase expensive and harmful chemicals. The good news is that, in most cases, a clogged drain is fixable on your own, and with the aid of common household materials.

In order to fix a drain, you will need your teapot, some baking soda, and white vinegar. First, fill the teapot up with water and bring it to a boil on the stove. Once boiling, remove it from the stove and pour the entire kettle down the clogged drain. It may take some time for the boiling water to empty all the way into the drain, but once it has, dump a cup of baking soda down after it, followed by two cups of white vinegar. Much like the classic volcano science project, the reaction of these two ingredients will cause a white, fizzy froth to fill the drain. Cover the opening with a wet rag or old cloth to keep the chemical reaction within the drain itself, and allow it to sit for 20 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, boil another kettle of water. Once the 20 minutes have passed you need only pour the second teapot full of boiling water down the drain and your clog should be removed!

Much like last week’s tips on washer and dryer maintenance, an annual emptying of your hot water heater can increase the life of the appliance, saving you valuable money both in the short and long-term. As water sits in your heater, the sediment within it eventually settles to the bottom of the tank where, if left undisturbed, it can cause issues over time. In order to access the bottom of the tank, you will have to first turn off the water source and the power source to the heater. You can cut the power to an electric heater by switching the circuit breaker to the “off” position, and a gas heater by switching the thermostat to pilot mode. Once the power has been suspended, you can begin draining the tank.

To do so, attach a standard garden hose to the drain valve found at the bottom of the heater and run it to a safe place outside the home. Once attached, turn a nearby hot water faucet on and then open the drain valve. This will send the water and sediment out through the garden hose and into your lawn. Be careful during this phase as all the water being emptied will still be very hot. Once the tank has completely emptied, you can turn the water supply back on just briefly to allow a bit more water into the bottom. Repeat the process for draining that until the water runs clear and all the sediment has been removed from the bottom of the tank. Finally, remove the house and seal the drain valve before refilling the tank by opening the water source and turning the tank back on. This process should be repeated every one to three years.

Well, there you have it, just a few quick fixes to common issues and preventative measures that could save you from having to hire out. And remember, if you ever run into an issue with your home that you’d rather not pay for, the internet can be a great resource in teaching yourself how to troubleshoot and fix it.

Until next time, homeowner!