Fix It Yourself and Save

Has your toilet been acting up? Doors extra squeaky? Have no fear! We’ve put together a list of some of the most common household problems, how to diagnose them and how to fix them yourself without having to call an expensive professional.


tolietsSymptom: The toilet won’t stop running.

Diagnosis: Float ball (or flapper)

Look inside the tank during the flushing cycle. If the tank’s water level isn’t rising very high, then the problem could be the float ball. Every time you flush, the float ball should initially drop down and then, as the tank refills with water, slowly move upward until the connecting rod is parallel to the water level.

Troubleshooting tips:

  • Try turning the adjustment screw on the ball cock supply valve anticlockwise to allow more water into the tank.
  • Is the float ball actually floating, or is it mostly submerged in the tank water? If the float ball is no longer buoyant, it needs to be replaced.
  • Another way to check this is to turn off the water supply and unscrew the float ball and connecting rod. If the float ball is full of water, it has sprung a leak and needs to be replaced.
  • Look at the connecting rod and see if it is broken. If so, it should be replaced.
  • Is the float ball touching the sides of the tank, thus preventing it from rising? If so, bend the connecting rod gently to nudge it away from the sides.


Symptoms: Water swirls in the bowl but will not go down or just flushes slowly.

Diagnosis: Jets or trap

The problem here probably isn’t the tank. To diagnose the issue, add three gallons of water to the bowl and flush. If it flushes properly, then the jets inside the bowl need to be cleaned. If not, the trap underneath the bowl needs to be unclogged.


Symptom: When the flush handle is pushed, nothing happens.

Diagnosis: Flapper chain

Look inside the tank. If the flapper chain has sunk all the way to the bottom and isn’t attached to anything, then you need to hook it back onto the trip lever, which extends from the flush handle. Make sure it’s secure and won’t easily fall off. Now, give it a flush to test if you’ve fixed it.



  • The flush handle needs to be held down for a while in order for it to flush completely.
  • The flush handle requires jiggling to make it stop flushing.
  • Water in the tank runs continuously after flushing.
  • Water in the tank spontaneously runs when no one has flushed it.

Diagnosis: Flapper

Often these issues can be solved by replacing your flapper. But before you do so, give it a brief test. Flush the toilet and watch what happens inside the tank. Does the flapper snap shut on the flush valve seat before the flushing cycle is done (requiring you to keep holding the handle down to get a complete flush)? Try adjusting the looseness of the flapper chain. If that doesn’t work, the flapper itself should probably be replaced.



Problem: Window screen is torn.

You’ll need: A flathead screwdriver, scissors, utility knife, mesh-screening material, spline and a spline rolling tool

Remove the torn or stretched screen from the frame. Depending on how it’s secured, it may just pop out or it may be held in place by clips. Use the flathead screwdriver to pry off the spline. Line up the new mesh on top of the frame to properly size the new piece; cut it to the outer edge of the frame. Cut a tiny square the width of the frame into each corner to avoid bunching. Then, starting in one corner and working your way around, push the screen in with the spline rolling tool, inserting the spline on each side as you go. You may need to use the screwdriver to push in the spline at the corners. Cut off anything that overhangs.


Problem: Window won’t stay up when raised.

You’ll need: A ruler or a dowel, a pair of window controls, box nails, hammer, measuring tape and a pencil

Lift the window the highest point you prefer and wedge it into place with the ruler or dowel rod. Place a window control in the channel on one of the sides. Line up the top edge with the bottom of the sash and nail it into place. Measure the distance between the nails and the sill so you can mark the same distance on the opposite side. Nail it into place and enjoy your newly opened window!


Hopefully this troubleshooting guide started you off in the right direction and saved you an expensive visit from a professional. Remember that not all issues can be resolved without the help of a professional and can actually be made worse if you try to do them solo. Use your best judgment!


Babs is a content writer at Enova International, Inc. with a Bachelors in Cinema Studies and English from the University of Illinois (ILL-INI!). She loves binge watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos! Find out more about her on Google+.


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