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Be brave, and fix it

What is the hardest part about replacing a bathroom faucet? How about replacing a hose on your car, or a dining room chandelier? Or installing a lock?

What is the hardest part about replacing a bathroom faucet? How about replacing a hose on your car, or a dining room chandelier? Or installing a lock?

For a lot of people, the answer is: Getting up the courage to do it.

In fact, all of those things are relatively easy to do, and can save tens or hundreds of dollars you might otherwise pay out each time to a plumber, mechanic, appliance repairman or locksmith.

Here are a few ways to build that confidence and start saving money:

Buy a book. Anyone who owns a car or a home should have a few reference books on hand. Car owners can easily find repair guides for their model of car, and for the most basic maintenance and repair tasks, often can download instruction guides from the car manufacturer’s website. For homeowners, how-to books that provide instructions for simple plumbing, electrical and other home repair tasks are available at any home supply store. Even if you never make a repair, you’ll know how some of this stuff works—and get an idea what the repairs you are paying for really involve.

Find it on the Internet. In addition to downloading instructions for specific repairs for specific models of cars and appliances, you can use model numbers to search for and find replacement parts from online supply houses. But perhaps best of all, there are more and more videos online where people demonstrate how to do the very repair you want to make.

Get the right tool. You can install a bathroom faucet in 10 minutes if you have a basin wrench—which costs a couple of bucks and is designed to reach up and behind a sink from beneath—or you can do it in a half hour or more if you try to do it without one. Likewise, installing a new deadbolt lock where there was not one before seems forbidding until you own a simple lock hole cutter. Books and online resources can tell you what you’ll need. With the right tools, you’ll do the job properly, save time, and spare yourself some skinned knuckles.

Start small. And take your time. Build up your courage—and your know-how—incrementally. Start with small things. Replace a flush mechanism in a commode or change out a faucet just to build a little confidence and realize that you actually can fix this stuff yourself. Then you can move up to other tasks, like replacing a garbage disposal, or changing out the belt in a clothes dryer.

And remember, there really are a lot of basic repairs and maintenance tasks that you can do rather quickly and easily. And as every homeowner knows, there is never a short supply of opportunities.

(Word to the wise: If it’s something you haven’t tackled before, especially if it’s mechanical [plumbing, heating, electric], try to do it on a week night. You don’t want to attempt to save money on replacing a faucet and then pay weekend rates to a plumber because you’ve run into a rusty galvanized pipe.)

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