6 Home Repairs for $15


Stop a Running Toilet: $0
When a toilet runs after the flush is complete, adjusting the lift chain or float arm usually solves the problem. The lift chain should hang straight down from the handle with about half an inch of slack. Move the chain to provide more or less slack, as required. Or, if the toilet has lift wires, straighten them. If that doesn’t do the trick, try bending the float arm until the float ball does not touch the tank wall.


Install a GFCI: $15 & up
To install a GFCI for single-location protection (does not protect other devices on the same circuit), shut down the power at the service panel and test with a non-contact circuit tester to confirm that the power is off. Remove the white neutral wires on the old receptacle, and pigtail them to the white line terminal on the GFCI. Remove the black hot wires from the old receptacle, and pigtail them to the hot line terminal. Disconnect the grounding wires from the old receptacle and pigtail them to the grounding screw terminal on the GFCI. Mount the GFCI and attach the cover. Turn on the power and test the GFCI.


Repair a Broken Lamp: $0
If the bulb is good and the circuit is operating but the lamp won’t light, the connections may be loose. Unplug the lamp and remove the light bulb. Use a screwdriver to pry up the metal tab at the bottom of the lamp socket. If that doesn’t solve the problem, pop the socket open. Loosen the screw terminals and reshape the C-shaped loops. Secure the loops around the screw terminals and tighten the screws. Pop the socket back into place, insert a lightbulb and test the lamp.


Seal a Leaky Downspout: $15 or less
Downspouts tend to be quite durable, but joints can work loose and leak. Tightening and sealing the joint is a quick and lasting solution. Take the leaky joint apart and use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub it clean. Wash the mating pieces and dry them thoroughly. Apply a bead of caulk at the seam line, position the pieces, and secure the joint with new fasteners.


Caulk Around a Window: $15
Gaps around windows and doors leak air, which means higher utility bills. Seal those gaps with silicone caulk. First, scrape out any failed caulk and clean the joint. Cut off the nozzle on a tube of caulk, angling the nozzle. Insert the tube into a caulk gun, and squeeze a smooth, even bead of caulk into the joint between the window frame and the siding.


Secure a Front Door: $15
Thieves can kick in the average door in moments, but sturdy hardware makes a door stronger and more secure. Fill the gap between the door frame and surrounding wall studs with plywood shims, and replace short hinge screws with 3- to 4-inch screws. Install metal plates to reinforce deadbolt locks and strike plates.

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