Basic Home Upkeep Tips for the Confused Student
So you’ve moved in and finished setting up the basic services we’ve listed here on our very own SPCE blog. Settling into student accommodation can be exciting, especially if it’s your first time living away from your family. However, it pays to know how to maintain your new home and what to do when things go south, especially if you’re looking to avoid steep charges from professional contractors and handymen.
If you’re feeling clueless about the complex and intimidating world of home maintenance and repairs, here are some basic home upkeep tips for you.
Before we go into the nitty gritty of home maintenance and repairs, it’s important to make sure you’re equipped with the right tools for the job. Or at least the basics.
Ask your landlord if your rental comes with basic tools. If it doesn’t, borrow some wisdom from the list of home toolbox essentials shared by Roy Berendsohn on Popular Mechanics. Include items like a hammer and screwdriver, along with equipment for measuring and drilling. Also, make sure that your toolbox has tools that will allow you to handle electrical equipment and plumbing.
Changing a light bulb
If your lights aren’t working or flicks on and off, check the circuit breaker or fuse box to make sure it isn’t simply an issue with the power. If the breaker is working fine, then it’s time to change the bulb.
The Guardian reports that one in five adults have trouble changing light bulbs, but in truth, the task isn’t as complicated as you might think. Double check if the switch is turned off before beginning, and ensure that your new bulb is the same size as the old one. Carefully twist the faulty one to align its ends with the gaps of the casing. Remove it, place the new one in, and twist it back to secure. Flick the switch and see if it works!
Cleaning a blocked drain
There are very few home fixes more dreaded by people than cleaning a blocked drain, and it’s not hard to see why.
Start by flushing it with boiling water, which should clear light blockage. For heavier blockages, siphon half a cup of baking soda down into the drain and follow it up with half a cup of vinegar. When it’s done fizzing, pour hot water over everything to flush things down. If it still doesn’t work, you can try LifeHacker’s DIY drain snake to break through or pull whatever’s clogging your drain.
Fixing the boiler’s pilot light
Pilot lights going out on modern gas boilers are rare, and it’s best to contact a professional to relight them for you. However, for older combination boilers, it is possible to fix the pilot light manually.
First, check for gas leaks or carbon monoxide warnings. If things are clear, see if your boiler has a pull-down panel and find the pilot knob, which is usually marked by an image of a fire. Turn it to the left and release. Repeat the process until the boiler relights.
Fixing a dripping tap
Worn out washers are usually the culprits behind – or rather, inside – leaky faucets. Because these rubber circles wear out quickly, you’ll find that they need to be replaced once in a while. Do this by turning off the main water supply (ask your landlord where it is), unscrewing the handle that controls the flow of water, and replacing the washer with the new one.
If your student accommodation comes with a fireplace, it is important to ensure your safety and keep paper, clothing, or other flammable things away from the fireplace. Gas fireplaces today usually come with various safety features. To illustrate, the array of gas fireplaces on Screwfix lists protective screens and glass doors among the added modifications to ensure safety. But this is not always the case with traditional wood fireplaces, so you will need a wire mesh screen to keep things away from the flame and vice and versa.
Keeping your refrigerator healthy
In addition to making sure the condenser coils at the back of your fridge are clean, a useful maintenance tip to ensure that the door seals are tight so as to not waste energy… wait for it. Conduct the old ‘pound note test’ by closing the door on a £5 note and attempting to pull it out while it’s closed. If the note easily comes off, it’s time to purchase new seals from your local home DIY store.
In case of emergencies, it’s important to have a list of emergency contact numbers on hand. Moreover, you must be aware of where and how to turn off controls such as the heating fuel and water shutoff, as well as the main electrical fuse or breaker box.
Do you have any questions about these tips, or have any new ones to add? Don’t forget to share them in the comments section.