Everything you and I own is subject to damage. Things break. They wear out and stop functioning. The only question is what we do when faced with things that no longer work. Do we throw them away and buy new, or do we fix? Far too few people are fixers. We are on a mission to help change that.
Learning to be a fixer accomplishes a couple of important things. First, it saves money on all sorts of home repairs and renovations. Every penny saved by being a fixer is a penny that can be put into other things.
Second, becoming a fixer is one way to help save the world from the harms of mass manufacturing and waste disposal. Every household item you fix is one less item you are throwing away. Just in the UK alone, every adult becoming a fixer would have a tremendous impact on pollution and resource consumption.
We know that becoming a fixer can seem overwhelming. So to help you ease into things, here are three ways you can save money – and help save the planet, too – by learning how to fix things:
1. Learn Basic Plumbing Repairs
This first idea, learning basic plumbing repairs, is more about saving money and less about saving the planet. Nonetheless, learning how to fix your own plumbing means not having to pay a licenced plumber by the hour. Basic repairs most people can learn fairly quickly include:
Fixing a Running Toilet
Running toilets are a common problem throughout the UK. In almost every case, a running toilet is the result of a worn flapper or malfunctioning flush valve. Both pieces are incredibly easy to replace. Best of all, you don't need very many hand tools or formal training. If you can read and follow basic instructions, both fixes can be accomplished in mere minutes.
Opening a Clogged Sink
Have you ever called in a plumber to handle a clogged sink? If so, you are probably familiar with the fact that clogged sinks are no big deal for plumbers. A plumber uses either a mechanical snake or an air compressor to relieve clogs in mere minutes. But then you pay an hour’s worth of labour.
Unclogging sinks isn't as difficult as it sounds. Minor clogs can usually be taken care of with a plunger. More difficult clogs may require disassembling the trap under your sink. But even that home fix is not complicated. It only takes a few minutes to remove the trap, clean it out, and reinstall it.
Fixing a Leaky Shower Head
A leaking shower head wastes water, which is bad for both your finances and the environment. Most such leaks occur because the connection between the water pipe and the shower head is not watertight. It's an easy problem to fix. All you need is a cheap, rubber gasket and some plumber's tape. And you're sure to find this at your local hardware store.
Basic plumbing tasks that do not require ripping out old plumbing or brand-new installations generally aren't that difficult. They only look hard because we are so unfamiliar with fixing things. You can change that for yourself. If you want to become a fixer, basic plumbing is a good place to start.
2. Learn to Fix Your Electronics
Our next idea is to learn to fix your own electronics. Granted, electronic gadgets can be complicated. There are some fixes you just won't be able to do without advanced knowledge and specialised tools. Still, you can learn basic fixes that don't require much. Here are a few examples:
Repair a Worn Cable
Many of our electronic gadgets involve small cables that carry power, data, or both. Consider your mobile phone charger. Unfortunately, charger cables are subject to wear and tear on both ends. You can take care of the wear and tear as long as the internal wires themselves are not broken.
A good way to do it is to cover the affected area with Sugru mouldable glue. Sugru sets up as a flexible rubber material that will secure any power cable and keep it that way for years. Check out this blog post to learn how to do it.
Replace a Mobile Phone Screen
A broken mobile phone screen isn't a legitimate reason to toss the phone in the bin. Not only does throwing away a broken mobile phone add to the electronics waste stream, but it also leaves you having to pay hundreds for a replacement. Avoid both issues by learning how to replace a broken screen yourself.
Here is a blog post explaining how to replace an iPhone screen. You can find similar guides online for all sorts of phone models. Note that the fixer here is a professional. You don't need all the complex hand tools he owns. Use the hand tools you have. Just be sure to go slowly and pay attention to the details.
Replace a Broken Laptop Screen
As long as we're talking broken screens, replacing a broken laptop screen is almost always easier than replacing the screen on your phone. Most laptop cases are secured by a number of screws fastened around the perimeter. You simply open the case to access the screws that hold the screen in place. Remove those screws, unplug the cable, and pull out the old display. You install a new display by reversing the process.
Again, there are loads of online guides pertaining to just about every make and model of laptop. The hardest thing about replacing a laptop screen is making sure you get the right replacement part. You can usually find the part number in the documentation that came with your computer. You can also look the make and model up online. If all else fails, your laptop's manufacturer should be able to give you the right part number.
The one thing all these electronic gadget fixes have in common is letting you keep your electronics in service longer. Fixing keeps those electronics out of landfills. It reduces the need to manufacture more devices. If we all learned to fix our electronic gadgets at home, we would have a definite impact on the environment.
3. Learn How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
Our third and final suggestion is to learn how to make your home more energy efficient. Energy efficiency is a big issue, both financially and in terms of saving the planet. It all boils down to using as little energy as necessary. The more we conserve energy, the less stress we put on the environment. We also save money, too.
Making your home more energy efficient involves quite a few simple home fixes. For example:
Seal Windows and Doors
In so many homes, inefficient windows and doors increase energy consumption. You can easily increase efficiency by sealing the cracks around windows and doors with cheap weatherstripping. You can accomplish the same thing with Sugru mouldable glue. The point is to fill in those gaps so that heat doesn't escape during the winter. As an added bonus, you'll also be preventing cold air from getting in.
Seal the Loft Hatch
Does your home have a loft with a hatch? If so, and the hatch has never been properly sealed, you are wasting money by allowing the heat in your home to escape through the loft. The problem is exacerbated if the loft space isn't properly insulated. However, insulation is another topic for another post. Let us just focus on sealing the hatch.
You can purchase hatch seal kits at DIY stores throughout the UK. However, you don't need a pre-assembled kit. You can buy all the materials you need separately. Check online for videos that explain how to seal your loft hatch in detail. Get it taken care of and you will probably be pleasantly surprised by how much lower your winter utility bill is. You really can save a lot.
Insulate the Plumbing
Colder winter temperatures can make it more difficult to maintain hot water in your home. That wastes energy by forcing your water heater to work harder. Fortunately, insulating pipes is so easy and inexpensive it is surprising that so few people do it. All it takes is some cheap foam lagging from the DIY store and a few minutes of your time.
Insulating your plumbing will guarantee that the hot water flowing through your pipes arrives at the sink or shower still hot. Likewise, insulating the water tank keeps water hot for longer and reduces the amount of energy the tank consumes. Best of all, insulating both greatly reduces the chances that your pipes will freeze, thereby avoiding burst pipes that could leave you with a huge repair bill.