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An Introduction to Repairing Household Items to Avoid Waste

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 13 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Household Household Repairs Household

Sometimes when household items break, we automatically throw them away and buy a new one. Often, there is life left in them and they just need repairing or sprucing up.

Some household repairs are easier than we might think, others can be learned, or if all else fails you can get an expert in.

So what can you repair?

If furniture gets shabby or breaks, it may be possible to mend it yourself, spruce it up a bit, or get it professionally fixed. When the fabric on sofas and chairs gets shabby, the frame is often fine. Many items, especially wooden chairs, are easy to re-upholster. For larger jobs, having a suite professionally re-upholstered may well be cheaper than buying a new one. Some modern sofas come with removable slip covers.

Repairing damaged old clothing can feel like a very old fashioned thing to do. However, it really can make your clothes and shoes last longer. If you opt for good quality clothes that you genuinely love in the first place, you’ll be more inclined to make do and mend than if you are a bit lack lustre about the clothes in the first place.

If you don’t already know how the basics it pays to grasp including replacing a button (pretty much anyone can do this), replacing a zip, and taking up and letting down hems.

More complicated repairs which can still be done at home with some skill or skilled help include patching or stitching a tear, replacing lining and taking clothing in to make it smaller.

If clothes get stained, there are often crafty ways and means of removing the marks. For example, if you move fast, hairspray can get hair dye out and corn starch should soak up greasy marks. Look up your specific stain online and you’ll find loads of tips.

Computer and gadget problems can terrify the best of us. However, before chucking it out of the window see if there is a trouble shooting section in the manual. There is often a helpline too where an expert will talk you through how to get things sorted.

Simple plumbing
Unless you know what you’re doing, large scale plumbing jobs are not recommended for the beginner. Simple jobs such as unclogging drains should be do-able for even the most inexperienced homeowner. A plunger, a wire coat hanger and a strong arm should do the trick. Baking soda and boiling water down the drain should also shift a gunky build up.

Household Repairs - Learning the Basics

These days not many people do know how to do basic repairs around the home. However, for those that want to learn there are plenty of ways to do so. Learning basic household repair skills can be enjoyable, save money and also save on waste.

Many colleges run regular courses such as car maintenance, basic painting and decorating, clothes-making, altering and repairing, computer maintenance and even plumbing skills. These courses often run in the evenings so that working people can attend.

Asking an expert to show you how to do something can also be a great way to learn such useful skills. Relatives or friends who can sew, do plumbing or decorate are usually more than happy to pass their skills on - after all, you’re less likely to rope them into helping once you can do things yourself.

There are plenty of books, DVDs and websites which will guide you through tasks such as installing a sink, changing a light bulb, or tiling a wall. Seeing a video or clear illustrated instructions in the next best thing to having a real person show you how to do something.

Home Repairs - When to Get an Expert In

Electrics - if it extends beyond changing a plug and you don’t know what you’re doing it’s usually best to consult an expert just to be on the safe side.

Structures - if your home improvements involve making any structural changes seek advice. You could be storing up a lot of trouble if structural jobs aren't done properly.

Leaks - Leaking pipes and toilets can be indicative of a more serious problem. You can stem the flow in the short-term but it’s usually best to ask a plumber to check things over.

The Home Repairs Mantra

These are just some of the ways you can think about repairing things before throwing them out. When something breaks ask yourself:
  • Can I mend this?
  • Can I learn to/find out how to mend this?
  • Can I get someone else to mend this?
  • If the answers are no ask: Can I re-use this in some other way or can I recycle it?

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