Common Apartment Problems - How to Be Your Own Handyman


One of the main benefits of renting rather than owning is the fact that when something needs fixin’, a call to the landlord is all that needs to be done! However, sometimes it is much quicker and easier to handle simple repairs on your own — especially if you deal with a very busy property manager who may not have the bandwidth to respond to your problem immediately.
Here’s a quick 101 on several basic home fixes even an amateur can handle without assistance.
Oops, the Toilet Won’t Flush
If your porcelain throne won’t flush — or won’t stop that annoying running — chances are you can remedy this quickly. Generally, this problem is related to the chain mechanism inside the tank. Lift the tank cover, check to see if the chain has gotten twisted up or has outright broken. Then simply untwist it and/or fix the breakage by creating a link with a paperclip or wire. (You can also purchase a whole new chain and reattach if you wish; they are inexpensive.
Who Turned Out the Lights?
Electric issues should, for the most part, be handled by a professional, but it’s easy to replace a light switch if it’s malfunctioning. First, turn the circuit off to be safe. Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the faceplate covering the switch. Then use a Phillips‐head screwdriver to remove the switch from the wall. Disconnect the two wires connected to screws on the switch, attach them to the new switch, then put everything back together
Darn, the Garbage Disposal Just Cut Out
So the disposal just stopped working? Likely something has jammed the mechanism. Turn the power off (this is important!) and feel for any debris inside. You can then see if there is a reset button under the sink. If there is a stubborn jam, poke an Allen wrench into the hole at the bottom of the unit and manually crank the flywheel; this will dislodge obstructions. You’ll likely find a small piece of bone, plastic or some other hard object that mistakenly got scraped into the drain.
I Was Mad and Punched a Hole in the Wall
Well, maybe you didn’t actually punch the wall ... but perhaps your kids were playing indoor soccer, or a skateboard/trike/rollerskate might have bashed its way through. Or you just simply swung the door open a bit too hard. At any rate, if the hole is not too big, you can take care of it. Clean off the loose edges and sand them. Fill the hole with joint compound using a spackle knife to apply in thin, layered coats. Once the compound is dry, you can sand it again to the texture of the wall, then prime and repaint.
Change Your Mind About Your Artwork?
If you like to move photos or pictures around, you’re going to find lots of pesky little holes in the wall that need repair. Luckily, this is very simple to remedy: Take a small putty knife or even a tongue depressor, fill the hole with spackling and then sand to match the rest of the wall.
repair

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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Christine Van Wetering
    on Aug 9, 2017

    any suggestions for hanging a drapery rod on a wall with metal studs instead of 2 x 4's?

    • Jessica Green
      on Dec 28, 2019

      Personally, I wouldn't drill into the studs. I would get some heavy duty wall anchors and screw into the drywall.

Join the conversation

3 of 13 comments
  • Martha Cannon
    on Jun 30, 2015

    Another idea for nail holes is white toothpaste.

  • Shirley Kalinosky
    on Jul 8, 2015

    For the doorknob hole, there are plastic circle pieces that stick to the wall and prevent the knob from damaging it further. I, personally, like the little things you put on the hinge and adjust it so the door WON'T hit the wall in the first place. I have them all over the house; especially in the kitchen so it won't hit the cabinets. On the front door so it won't hit the doorway to the dining room at the top and each bedroom and bathroom to save the walls. Whoever built the house didn't think of this so I did.

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