So you think you’re an adult….but are you master of your domain?

5 things every adult should know how to do around the house (DIY)

Part of being an adult is creating a well-functioning place to call home. If you want to add a personal touch, like artwork on the walls, you need to hang it. If something breaks, you have to be able to fix it — think DIY or you’ll have to hire someone else to do it, which burns through cash fast. Luckily, the more tasks you take on, the more you learn. You screw up, you learn. Finally, the day that you’ve become one everyone else turns to for advice….You move to Tahiti and start building surfboards.  

Instructions for five simple home maintenance tasks everyone can — and should — master.

DIY… replace the stopper in a sink

Renters often have to suffer the consequences of previous tenants’ failed home-repair efforts, such as someone didn’t know how to remove a stopper and forced it out, leaving an open drain — the perfect place to lose an earring or contact lens. Never fear, you can fix this annoyance with a part that costs less than $10 from our friends at Home Depot. 

Clear the area under the sink, and turn on a flashlight. Find the horizontal rod that connects to the sink drain, and mark where the rod threads through the vertical plate (the clevis). Loosen the clevis screw and the nut where the rod slips into the drainpipe so you can pull out the rod enough to slip the new stopper into place. Wiggle it, pushing in the rod and raising and lowering the lever on the top of the sink that activates the stopper, until everything is aligned. Then tighten the nut just enough so the stopper doesn’t slide down, and tighten the clevis screw. Check again to make sure everything works. If the stopper doesn’t move freely, loosen the nut a little.

Unclog a drain

Even if you don’t care about ruining a landlord’s plumbing, you shouldn’t use harsh chemicals. Unused chemicals become your disposal problem when you move. You can clear most drains in just a few minutes without resorting to chemicals. Remove the stopper by loosening the horizontal rod that goes into the drain pipe. (See previous) With your ex’s old toothbrush, fish out the clog. Most often, it’s a wad of hair and soap scum near the top of the drain. DIY

To clear a bathtub drain, the steps are basically the same, except for removing the stopper. If the clog still sticks, the drain needs to be cleared with a snake — a flexible auger that you thread into the pipe until it pokes through the clog. You might want to call your landlord or a plumber.

Hang art or even a mirror on a wall

There’s probably no better way to make a rental space your own than to decorate the walls with art or whatever you consider art. Thumbtacks were fine for the dorm. but now you want framed art and maybe a mirror or two, and those can get heavy.

If you need to hang something too heavy for picture hangers to support, the best solution is to hang the artwork where you can fasten studs. Use a stud sensor or tap on the wall, moving horizontally until you hear the sound change to a thud. This spot often lines up with the nail holes in baseboards. On drywall, use screws that are 1½ inches long. On plaster, drill a narrow hole until you can tell (by a change of pressure) that you are past the plaster and into the stud. Add 1 inch to the depth of the bit at that point.) If you hit a spot where the bit or screw won’t penetrate, it’s possible you are over a metal plate protecting wire or plumbing. Stop and choose a different location.

If there is no stud where you want to hang the art, buy plastic wall anchors to hold the screws or, for the heaviest loads on plaster, toggle bolts.

Patch holes in a wall

Patching holes in a wall might seem like something to put off until you’re ready to move. But why not plug them now and enjoy the tidier appearance?

Pinholes are easiest to fix. Lightweight spackle dabbed on with a fingertip is all you need. Let it dry, then touch up with an artist brush and a little leftover paint. If the walls have a texture, apply the spackle with a toothpick so you don’t smear it beyond the hole.

Mending wider gashes requires a support membrane, usually plastic mesh, and spackle or drywall mud. You can buy a kit, such as Dap’s Wall Repair Patch Kit which comes with a 4-inch square piece of adhesive-backed mesh for reinforcing. Or you can improvise by cutting a small square of plastic window screen and using spackle to hold it in place. Apply one thin coat of spackle that fully embeds the mesh. Let that dry, then apply a second layer that completely covers the mesh and is feathered out at the edges to blend in with the wall. If the wall has a texture, get a spray can of a similar texture, for blending.

Set a screw that just spins in place

You think you can fix a wobbly cabinet door by tightening that screw on the hinge. But then you turn and turn with a screwdriver, and the screw just spins in place.

Try swapping it out for a slightly wider screw. Or, if you are locked into using the same screw, perhaps because it’s what fits with the hinge, stuff the screw hole with wooden toothpicks coated in wood glue. (If the hole is big, cut thicker slivers of wood with a utility knife.) When the glue dries, slice off the excess with a sharp utility knife, then reinsert the screw.

So, are you an adult, still master of your domain?

Matt Pelton


Matt’s an Ohio licensed Realtor with 20+ years experience in residential and investment real estate sales, leasing, property management, and offering pre-purchase consultations and BPO’s for investors and lending institutions. Matt currently works as the Sales Manger at Real Property Management. You can contact Matt at 866.500.6200, via email ([email protected]) or DM on twitter @CincySalesGuy 


As the largest property management brand in the country, Real Property Management is well equipped to maximize your investment, alleviate the daily burdens, and provide you with detailed communication along the way.  How can Real Property Management help you? 














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