Plumbing

Overcoming a Handyman Handicap One Faucet at a Time

Monday, May 16th, 2011

When the water from the faucet in our upstairs bathroom went from flowing freely to flowing slowly, at first it was merely an annoyance.  But when it slowed so much that it could barely rinse a toothbrush, I got worried.  My mind filled with fears of having to replace every last bit of plumbing in our house.  I envisioned our plumber’s kids graduating from college courtesy of our life savings.

Such are the mad thoughts to one who is home maintenance challenged.  I’m so unhandy that when Jude and I got married, she owned more tools than I did.

But then a few semi-rational thoughts made their way into my mind.  None of the other faucets were running slowly, so it couldn’t be a whole-house plumbing problem, right?

After ruling out the possibility that one of our kids tampered with the knobs underneath the sink, I turned to the Internet.  Still fearing what I might discover, I forced my trembling fingers to type, “fixing one slow faucet.”  With several results mentioning “aerator,” a term that I thought only applied to poking holes in your yard for reasons that are still a mystery to me, I discovered that unscrewing the tip of the faucet and soaking the parts in vinegar may solve the problem.  And to my amazement, it did!

At first, I felt like the worst little leaguer on the team who sticks his glove in the air out of self-defense and miraculously catches the game-winning fly ball.

But then I felt proud of myself for figuring out the problem and saving the $125 our plumber would have charged. Now I’m motivated to learn how to do more around the house myself, and I’m intent on teaching our kids how to fix stuff too.

Learning to Do Your Own Home Repairs

There’s plenty of helpful advice available online, including from Home Depot, Lowe’s, the Family Handyman, and This Old House.

But you can just type questions into the Internet as well, which is what I did to fix our faucet.

Teaching Your Kids About DIY Projects

In order to help our kids grow up to be handy around the house, I’m going to involve them in the projects I’m learning how to do.  And I’m planning to take them to some free how-to workshops offered by the two leading DIY stores.

Home Depot’s Kids Workshops are for kids age 5-12 and are offered on the first Saturday of each month.

Lowe’s Build and Grow clinics are for first to fifth graders and are offered every other Saturday.

What advice do you have about becoming handier around the house?

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Categories: Miscellaneous, Smart Spending

6 Responses to “Overcoming a Handyman Handicap One Faucet at a Time”

  1. Steve Wilson says:

    Great article Matt with very practical advice. While personally very comfortable with the electrical side of the DIY equation, plumbing always represented “do not venture here”. However my circa 1920′s house has afforded me the opportunity to “learn” a couple of plumbing jobs that are really quite easy to do yourself including replacing the guts of a toilet (float assembly, hoses, etc.) and even replacing the entire toilet in our basement. I also found the folks at my local ACE hardware store to be very helpful when I had specific questions on the projects above.

    Still had to engage our friendly plumber for a leaking pipe that required tearing out a 3′X 5′ section of my dining room ceiling to get to. But I know I saved myself hundreds of dollars doing the other jobs myself.

  2. Mary Ellen Ryan says:

    YouTube videos also help me fix things. Just last week, I found several YouTube videos on how to reset the code on my automatic garage door opener.

    Last year, I watched a video on how to change a washer on my outside faucet. I was successful and the drip stopped!

  3. nancy dahl says:

    Congratulations Matt on teaching your children to be fearless and self-reliant. That was and is part of the spirit that made our nation great–even if some of it was couched in bad ideology. Homeschooling families have embraced this concept to varying degrees–being the consumate “do-it-yourselfers!” My children would often tout of me that I “could do anything,” which wasn’t absolutely true, but the modeling was there to try something intimidating and or new, even if failure was the result! But oh the pay off when it succeeded! Either way, we won a more valuable abstract character concept as a family.

  4. Matt Bell says:

    Steve – Now I know who to turn to for some electrical project tutoring!

    Mary Ellen – Great tip about YouTube. I hadn’t even thought of searching there.

    Nancy – If not fearless, I at least hope our kids grow up confident that they can fix lots of things. Very cool to hear how your kids viewed you. I’m not sure our kids are going to view me that way (unless making a golf ball draw or fade at will counts!), but I hope the path I’m on will make them see that I was eager to learn how to fix things instead of being quick to hire out the job.

  5. Brooke says:

    Matt, I enjoy reading your blog, thank you for your thoughtful articles.

    I struggle with managing ALL THE PAPERS associated with our finances. I get confused when to keep, when to toss, especially quarterly, yearly investment reports.

    Any future plans to share some pointers on that?

  6. Matt Bell says:

    Brooke – Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll work it in within the next two weeks. With tax season just over, I’m sure there are others who have the same question.

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