Simple Fixes to Common Household Problems

We all face minor issues in our homes from time to time, from a sticky drawer to a leaky faucet. Many of these problems seem complicated but can often be solved with some simple handy work and inexpensive parts. Read on for some do-it-yourself fixes to some of the most common minor household headaches.

Squeaky Floorboards and Doors

Squeaks in your home can be annoying and seem difficult to get rid of. However, before replacing floorboards or doors, try using a powdered graphite lubricant. Simply sprinkle some graphite powder along the spot where the squeak is happening. Step along the floor or open and close the door a few times to work the graphite into the space.

For especially stubborn squeaks, you can try taking out and adjusting the screws that hold the cabinets to the walls. The good folk at SPAX say that sometimes just tightening or loosening cabinet screws slightly is enough to reduce wood-on-wood friction and stop the squeaking.

Leaky Faucets

That constant drip-drip-drip from your bathroom or kitchen faucet can damage your fixtures and run up your water bill. Replacing whole faucets or valves can be expensive. Nevertheless, often you can fix a leak with basic tools and inexpensive replacement washers or gaskets.

Start by turning off the water supply to the leaky faucet and unscrewing the handle. Remove any debris or corrosion from the faucet body and valve seats. Examine washers and O-rings for cracks or distortion. If the existing washers are in good shape, simply re-install them. If they are worn out, take them to the hardware store to find identical replacements. While the faucet is disassembled, apply some plumber’s grease to the washers and valve seats to improve the seal and prevent future drips.

Clogged Drains

Few household hassles are as unpleasant as a clogged sink or tub drain. Pouring caustic chemical drain cleaners down your fixtures can damage pipes and rarely solves the problem fully. Instead, try removing the P-trap under the sink to check for clogs. Place a bucket under the trap to catch any water, unscrew the slip nuts on the trap bend, and remove the curved section of the pipe. Clean out any debris, then reassemble and test the drain.

For stubborn clogs farther down the pipe, use a zip strip drain cleaner. Simply insert the flexible zip strip into your drain and retract it to grab hair and debris. An inexpensive drum auger can also be used to physically clean out pipes. Using mechanical means to remove gunk maintains the integrity of your plumbing and is better for the environment, too.

Sticking Drawers and Cabinets

Drawers that will not open smoothly or cabinets that stick when you try to open them are common issues in any home. Often, the problem is caused by humidity swelling the wood. Before you try sanding or planing the wood down, try this quick fix using wax paper and a hair dryer.

Take out the sticky drawer or open the stubborn cabinet door. Use strips of wax paper to lightly lubricate the sides that rub. Close the drawer or door as much as it will close, then heat it up by blowing warm air from a hairdryer along the edges. The heat will make the wax melt and soak into the wood, allowing the drawer or door to slide more smoothly. After a minute or two, open and close the drawer or door a few times.


As you can see, many irritating household issues actually have pretty straightforward fixes. With some basic tools and inexpensive hardware, you can take care of minor problems yourself instead of calling in expensive handymen.