Things Every Homeowner Should Know How to Do

Owning a home comes with a lot of responsibilites. While there are certain repairs and improvements in which it would be a wise decision to utilize a professional, there are many maintenance jobs that can be handled on your own. Here is a list of basic skills to help make oneself a better homeowner.

1. Clear Out the Gutters

Even the ladder-averse can clean the gutters twice a year to prevent pests and ice dams. Remove leaves by hand or with the assistance of a leaf blower, garden hose, or wet-dry vac. When you're up on a ladder, be sure to use a stabilizer. If sticking to ground level is more your style, you can still get the job done if you have special attachments for your leaf blower or wet-dry vac.

2. Fix a Dripping Faucet

Leaky faucets can be fixed with a little elbow grease and know-how. First, turn off the water to the sink and stop the drain with a rag so you don't lose any small parts while you're dismantling the faucet. A compression faucet needs a new rubber washer to seal the valve, and a drippy washerless faucet can be stopped up with a new O-ring.

3. Swap Out Furnace Filters

The simplest way to maximize furnace efficiency is quick, easy, and all-too-often forgotten: Make sure to change your furnace filter every two months. Choose the right filter for your model, turn off your furnace, and remove the service panel to swap out the old filter for the new one. Each furnace is different, so be sure to consult your manual about the correct procedure.

4. Caring for Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are often a home's most inviting feature and with proper care, you can keep them that way. Be sure to use cleaning products designed for hardwood, because other cleansers can cause damage. A little water on a cloth works wonders on spills, but too much water will damage the wood. For fabulous floors, vacuum frequently using a hardwood floor attachment to grab dust from between boards without scratching.

5. Replacing a Shower Head

Replacing a shower head is a smaller project that can lead to a big impact. Remove the exisiting shower head, then lay thread seal tape at the base of the shower arm before screwing in the new piece. Don't fasten it too tightly.

6. Installing a New Thermostat

A programmable thermostat is a big step toward energy efficiency, and it's easy to install: Turn off the breaker to your furnace and air conditioner, then remove the old thermostat, leaving the wires in place. The number of wires will help determine which type of thermostat you should buy to replace it.

7. Clear a Clogged Toilet

Every homeowner will encounter a clogged toilet or two over the years. However alarming it is when it happens, a clog is simple to fix with a plunger, an auger, rubber gloves, and a bucket. If the bowl is in danger of overflowing, shut off the water supply valve behind the toilet and empty out half of the water.

8. Building and Attach Window Boxes

The perfect project for a beginner woodworker, a window box should be cut to the inside width of the window frame, plus 1½ inches. Fit the pieces together with a simple butt joint. Screw the boards together and drill drainage holes on the bottom. Attach the window box to the window frame using heavy-duty screws or brackets to make sure that your favorite flowers have a secure home.

9. Locate Wall Studs

When you knock on a wall, a spot with the stud behind it will sound solid. Alternatively, use a magnetic stud finder that beeps when it locates the nails in the boards. Happy hunting!

10. Effectively Clean Porcelain Tiles

For squeaky-clean porcelain tiles, sweep and vacuum them twice a week. Soak with a water-vinegar mixture for 5 to 10 minutes once a month for a deep clean, and scrub with a soft-bristled brush. Dry with a microfiber cloth. To keep tiles looking new, avoid bleach, wax, oil-based cleansers, and hard scrubbers.

11. Hang Shelves

Need some vertical storage? You can hang floating shelves, but be sure they're attached to the wall studs for a supportive base. Otherwise, use wall anchors that can support the amount of weight you'd like the floating shelves to hold. Always use a level before you drill. If you don't have a traditional or laser level, you can download a level app to your smartphone.

12. Unclog a Sink

If you have a clogged sink, skip the chemical drain cleaners—they probably won't fix anything. Your problem may be a blocked P-trap. Check this U-shaped pipe under the sink by first placing a bucket underneath it and then unscrewing the pipe. 

13. Use a Pressure Washer

Can you even recognize your exterior paint color under all that grime? Cleaning your exterior with a pressure washer can remove several years' worth of dirt. Work from the top down, and to keep from stripping paint or damaging siding, avoid pointing the hose at a 90-degree angle. Your house will be beautifully grime-free in no time.

14. Paint a Room

After you pick the perfect colors, clear the room of furniture and light fixtures (after disconnecting the power). Vacuum the walls, floors, and ceiling. Protect floors from drips with a drop cloth, and baseboards with painter's tape. Keep the room ventilated, and wait a day or two before moving back in.

15. Replace Outlets

If your outlets need an update, cut the power and use a voltage tester to confirm that there's no electricity running through them. Remove the faceplate, unscrew the outlet, and take note of which wires connected to which outlet. Hook up the new outlet, screw it into place, and turn the electricity back on to test your work.

16. Seal the Driveway

Sealing your driveway can extend its life and improve your home's curb appeal. Make sure the weather forecast is dry, then start by repairing cracks and washing off the driveway, allowing it to dry overnight. Apply the driveway sealant in small patches. Keep off the driveway for 24 hours to let your work set.

17. Hang a Picture

Hanging a picture is something every homeowner should know how to do. All you need is a measuring tape, a pencil, and a small level. It doesn’t matter if you use nails, or fancy hanging strips, it really all comes down to math.

18. Seal the Deck

Regular deck maintenance will keep your outdoor spaces looking beautiful and serve you well for many seasons. In most cases, sealing the deck is not a job you can accomplish in one day, but it is well worth the effort. Before starting, attend to any structural issues, and thoroughly clean the deck. Then apply your preferred sealing or stain, and it will look nearly new again.

19. Inspect the Fireplace

Every homeowner should be able to inspect their fireplace and chimney prior to using it in winter, and identify problems that need a professional to manage. Make sure to clear away any remaining ash and clean the fire box. Then, check for cracks in the chimney both inside and out. Confirm the chimney cap is firmly attached and make sure the damper can open and close the way it should. With regular attention, your fireplace can keep you safely cozy for years to come.

20. Clean the Sump Pump

Most homeowners never even think about their sump pumps, but in order to stay in good working order, it should be cleaned once or twice a year. Turn off the power to it, or unplug it, first. Remove it from its pit, and take it outside. Rinse it off with a hose and remove any caked-on debris. Drain any water from the pit with a shop vac, and then return the pump after it has thoroughly dried.


Castelaz, Caitlin. “50 Things Every Homeowner Should Know How to Do.” Bob Vila,, 19 June 2022,

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