Please Learn These Skills Before You Buy a House

young couple in their new home
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For many people, owning a home is a lifelong dream. With homeownership comes immense pride and joy, but it also comes with a long list of responsibilities, including maintenance of things you may have never considered before. If you aren't particularly handy or have previously had landlords help take care of small repairs for you, you might face a little bit of a learning curve once you get the keys to a place of your very own. Before you buy your first house, be sure to learn these important skills that will save you money and a lot of time throughout your many years of homeownership.

Unclog a Sink

Bottled drain cleaners only go so far, and more often than not you'll need to get in the pipes to get your sink draining properly once again. Since clogged drains are an inevitability, knowing how to unclog one on your own is key.

sink hole
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Fix a Leaky Faucet

Leaky faucets are typically the result of a faulty washer inside your faucet’s handle. Learning how to fix a leaky faucet on your own can save you a lot of money if you usually call in a plumber, and it cuts down your water bill, as leaks waste a lot of water over time.

hot water running from tap, close up
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Use a Fire Extinguisher

Everybody knows to reach for the fire extinguisher in the event of a fire, but most people don’t actually know how to use it once it’s in hand. Learn how to properly handle a fire extinguisher to keep a small, accidental fire from blazing out of control.

woman using fire extinguisher, close up
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Pick a Lock

Chances are a door in your home will accidentally get locked from the inside—especially if you have small children—and you’ll want to know how to open it without needing a locksmith. Once you get the hang of it, unlocking interior doors is pretty easy.

behind closed doors closed door in family home
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Open a Door With No Knob

Accidents happen, and sometimes a doorknob can fall off, leaving you potentially at a loss. Even if a door doesn’t have a doorknob, you can use pliers to grip and turn the spindle inside the mechanism as a temporary fix.

mixed race woman fixing doorknob
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Stop an Overflowing Toilet

We have all experienced a clogged and overflowing toilet, and the key to keeping a small problem from turning into a big one is fixing it quickly. In a pinch, take off the top of the toilet tank and pull up on the float to close the valve.

interior design of contemporary bathroom with toilet in daylight
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Find a Stud In Your Wall

When you’re ready to hang a shelf or secure a piece of furniture to your wall, you’ll need to locate a stud to ensure it’s installed properly. While you can certainly use an electric stud finder, it’s beneficial to be able to locate a stud by hand. Pro tip: Studs are usually placed at 16-inch intervals, so once you find one you should be able to easily locate the rest.

a tradesman installing hanging shelves
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Discard Leftover Paint

Except for paint that has dried into a solid, you’ll have to take special measures to properly dispose of leftover paint. Tossing old paint in the trash can contribute to groundwater pollution due to the paint solvents they contain.

paint tray filled with gray paint an brush tools for the painter and
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Identify Termites

Learning to spot termites before they do significant damage to your house is an essential skill. Termites typically hide in places where wood is exposed, like crawlspaces or wood framing.

home improvement needed
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Drill Through Tile

Cracking tile as you attempt to drill a hole through it is a rookie mistake, and one that could cost you a lot of money to fix. Instead, learn how to first gently pierce the glaze before drilling to prevent unnecessary cracking.

drilling light switch and power outlet into wall
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Clean Stained Grout

Unless your home is brand new, the grout in your home is likely to have some stains on it from normal wear and tear. Instead of replacing it, learn to clean it— all you need is a steam cleaner.

water flowing in bathtub
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Cut Down a Tree

The number of accidents and injuries that stem from trees being cut down incorrectly is staggering. To keep yourself safe, learn how to remove a tree from your yard properly, and if the tree is on the bigger side, you’ll definitely want to call an arborist to bring it down for you.

branch pruning action
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Secure a Loose Screw

Over time, screws can become loose and they key to securing them lies in filling the hole to ensure a tight fit.

using a screwdriver selecting a bit
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Use a Ladder Safely

Learning how to properly use a ladder ensures not only your safety, but the safety of those around you. If you’re using an extension ladder for painting, cleaning out gutters, or other DIY home projects, make sure that the rung locks are anchored in place.

man cleaning leaves from guttering of house
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Hardwire a Light Fixture

Sure, you could hire an electrician to come out and hardwire all of your light fixtures, but spending the time to learn how to do it yourself will save you a lot of time and money over many years of homeownership. Be sure to always turn off the electricity in your home before performing any electrical work.

woman changing light bulb in living room
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Identify Asbestos

Asbestos was commonly used in the construction of homes prior to the 1970s, and since then we’ve learned that it contains cancer-causing agents. Look for insulation that resembles plaster put on by hand—and then call a licensed asbestos abatement contractor ASAP.

asbestos pipe on beach greece
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