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The SIX Do-it-Yourself Home Repairs We Bail People Out of Most

It’s been said that “pride comes before the fall.” You may want to check me on this because your humble correspondent is not a historian, but I’d say this quote originated from do-it-yourselfers who insist on hanging ceiling fans.

Look, we all want to be heroes in the eyes of our families. Even though a man might spend 40 hours a week at a keyboard, with the only physical activity being getting up for bathroom breaks every once in awhile, he still has an instinctive, prideful need to demonstrate to himself and to others his mastery of the physical world – that he can use his mind and body to do the types of things everyone can understand are useful, unlike what he is doing at that keyboard, which nobody but him understands.

So a pride-energized homeowner constantly looks around for SEEMINGLY simple do-it-yourself home repairs to perform. He identifies one and, within minutes, discovers he brought the wrong tools. So he wanders around and comes back with more wrong tools. After a whole lot more time has passed than expected, he is frustrated, and realizes he is stuck. 

Unwilling to concede defeat, he explains to his family that the problem is that no house in the history of houses has ever had the condition he is facing, and he pledges to continue the work next weekend…then the following weekend…etc. This process may go on for months, until the humiliation of continuing the job exceeds that of calling Fix St Louis. BTW, this homeowner may be relieved to know that we cannot indulge in looking down on those who fail at home repairs because our culture generally provides higher compensation to those who do non-understandable things on keyboards.

So, which home repairs is Fix St Louis most frequently called-on to finish? The ones that lure do-it-yourselfers in because they are misperceived as “simple”? Here are the top six:

Pop-Up Sink Stopper

When you want to fill-up a bathroom sink, you know that stopper at the bottom of the sink that goes up and down when you raise or lower the stem at the back of your faucet? Seems simple, right? But, in repairing one you will come across parts and fittings you have never seen before. And you almost need the mind of someone who plays 3D chess to figure out how to make the right adjustments on each of them, because some parts go down at the same time that others go up. These adjustments are critical to perform the miracle of fully sealing the drain hole on one hand, and not popping-up so high that your priceless earrings will fall down the drain on the other. Now, it might make sense to spend your time trying to fix one of these if it actually raised your IQ by 2 points, which in a fair world it would. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to detect that difference in our staff. In any event, at Fix St Louis we’re plenty smart enough to fix them.

Changing Faucets

Swapping-out a bathroom or kitchen faucet? No problem, you say. You’ve got an adjustable wrench, and if that fails you’re so cool that you also own a socket set! So you force your body into that small cabinet door hole beneath the sink, into that moist area, on your back. Then you crane your neck to look up, and realize it’s really, really dark up there. You’ll need a flashlight and a way to make it stay in position while you point it. But then you realize there’s no room up there to operate an adjustable wrench, and you can’t use the socket wrench because there’s a pipe in the way. But OK, let’s say you figure out how to solve these problems. Time to shut the water off so you can work on the faucet. You try to turn-off the water shut-off valve under that cabinet – the one that’s disintegrated because you’ve NEVER turned it off – – so it’s not turning-off the water completely. Just great – now you’ve created yet another repair job – replacing the water shut-off valve. Maybe it’s time to shut-off the whole do-it-yourself job. Call Fix St Louis.

Patching Drywall

Sure, everyone can slap some goop on a hole or crack on a wall, but how many can make it seem like the damage was never there? Achieving a patch that doesn’t protrude or stand-out in other ways from the surrounding area takes 2-3 coats, ideally spaced a day apart to give time to dry. It also requires sanding, which most folks don’t even think about. And what about that very common sand texture in the wall – if you just patch it with joint compound (aka “mud”), the smooth patched surface will stand-out. And what if you have no leftover paint, or it’s too old? That will require matching the color of the paint, or perhaps painting that entire wall. Look, if you just want to patch small nail or screw holes in walls from previously-mounted pictures, you’ll probably be fine doing it yourself. But for anything larger, you’re better off with Fix St Louis.

Grab Bars

If you hang a picture on a wall with the wrong fastener, the worst thing that’s gonna happen is the picture will fall and break. But if you use the wrong fasteners for a grab bar in a shower, a PERSON may fall and a HIP may break. In addition to the additional weight a grab bar needs to hold, consider that the surface of a shower wall may be plastic, tile, ONYX, or cultured marble. How are you going to locate a stud behind that surface to screw into? We at Fix St Louis know all the tricks on how to find the framing behind these surfaces. We also know about specialty anchors that can do the job without studs behind. Save a hip, or a head, or an appendage. Give us a call.

Exhaust Fan

Some do-it-yourselfers seem to have the misimpression that changing a bath exhaust fan on a ceiling is as simple as changing a ceiling light fixture. But that’s not true at all. When you change a light fixture you’re generally attaching it to a metal box on the ceiling that’s already there and was used for the previous fixture. But for a bath exhaust fan, that metal box on the ceiling is the body of the fan itself and the size of that box differs from exhaust fan to exhaust fan. Also, the old fan’s box is attached to a ceiling joist, so it’s pretty much impossible to remove without damaging drywall on the ceiling. In addition to drywall work, that usually means painting the entire bathroom ceiling. Either be aware of what you’re about to get into, or call Fix St Louis.

Ceiling Fan

So, back to ceiling fans. The biggest mistake do-it-yourselfers make is not realizing until the last minute that you can’t simply attach a ceiling fan to a junction box on a ceiling designed for a light fixture – the weight and vibration of the fan would cause the fan to fall out of the ceiling. So the junction box needs to be replaced with one that can be braced between 2 joists above the ceiling. If there’s an attic above, replacing that junction box is relatively easy. But if there’s living space above you’ll need to cut into drywall, which also means patching drywall and most likely painting the entire ceiling. Yep, at Fix St Louis we do this kinda stuff all the time.

I’m not sure where this notion came from that it’s more admirable to do a job yourself than hire someone else to do it. I thought it’s been decided it was more prestigious to be a manager bossing people around than to do actual work. To tell you the truth, I thought that’s what YOU’VE been doing at that keyboard. Hey, here’s another good use for that keyboard. Visit to contact us. We’ll take the “Yourself” out of “Do-it-Yourself.”

Dr Steve

Fix St Louis