How to, home and car edition
July 16, 2019 11:46 PM   Subscribe

 
Can I finish my coffee first?
posted by Segundus at 1:59 AM on July 17 [12 favorites]


oops i missed one: how to replace a light switch

in some places this kind of minor electrical work is illegal to do if you are not a licensed electrician, as a heads up.
posted by Cozybee at 2:44 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I was looking for "do my taxes for me" but was sadly disappointed.

Interestingly, after years of pulling on and off racing tires on my brothers cars, was surprised they didnt use the prop up with your feet technique when putting the tire back on.

(But thanks! Bookmarked to use for educating my kids)
posted by greenhornet at 3:15 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


... change a flat tire...

If you're lucky enough to own a car that still comes with a spare tire, of course.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:19 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


Re: finding studs. They go through the use of an electronic stud finder, and refer to "manual methods below," but don't show any. Here are some manual (non-electronic) methods:

* The traditional method is to tap the wall with something solid, but not hard enough to mar the plaster. When you tap on a stud, the hollow sound disappears.

* If you don't want to spend the bucks or the space on an electronic finder, the little magnetic ones work well, and are cheap and compact. They may work better than electronics on lath & plaster.

* As noted in the Lowe's video linked at the bottom of the page, light switches and outlets are attached to studs. Use that knowledge and the (American) standard 16-inch spacing to check your results.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:13 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


change your car's oil, change a flat tire, flush your radiator and cooling system, jump-start a car, fix a running toilet,

Wait what sort of car is this
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:28 AM on July 17 [19 favorites]


You can buy a spare tire. Heck, buy a full-size spare as long as you’re at it.

YouTube is a wonderful resource for this kind of thing. No matter how ridiculously specific your issue, someone somewhere made a how-to video on how to do exactly that thing and put it on YouTube. I’ve learned how to zest an orange without a zester, change out the headlight bulbs for my make and model of car, remove and clean my water heater’s ignition screen, install a new solid state drive into my particular model of gaming laptop, remove my specific type of bathtub drain to clean the drain, remove and replace the gear on my blender when it broke, and replace my kitchen faucet. Next on the docket: removing the P-trap in my bathroom sink to clear a slow drain. Already found a video, I just haven’t done the actual job yet.

You can really go far on basic handy stuff just by having some patience, a household tool kit, and the willingness to go step-by-step and follow the instructions, even if you’ve never done the task before. Having a video to show you exactly how to do it is super helpful. Thank goodness for all the plumbers, chefs, handy types and electronics nerds who like their subject so much that they’re willing to go to the trouble to record it.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:32 AM on July 17 [13 favorites]


I think I'll pass on doing the rad flush myself. Too many cocks.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 5:30 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


diagnose and fix clogged drains

I sadly have too much experience with this. My apartment kitchen and bathroom sinks are all close enough together that all three drains (the kitchen sink is a double) eventually feed into the same pipe, and despite my caution with each drain, eventually things slip through each drain and collect down deep past the point where the three join into a single pipe and then I get clogs that get stubborn. This most recent one took two days to alleviate.

Fortunately I also live near a little Mom-and-Pop type of hardware store that's loosely affiliated with Lowe's - so you have the neighborhood-regular customer service, but the inventory of a bigger store - and they've recommended some things I've never heard of over the years, so this time I knew what to get when the supermarket Drano didn't work.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:17 AM on July 17


real talk: i dont know how people adulted before the internet. when i first moved out on my own, the internet was basically still long, text-only arguments about whether kirk or picard was the better starfleet captain, this type of thing would have been incredibly useful
posted by entropicamericana at 6:29 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Sadly, to keep things succinct instructions for this sort of basic handyman stuff often assume that the person who originally installed the faucet/drain/fuse/tire actually knew what the fuck they were doing.

Working on old houses gets . . . interesting.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:49 AM on July 17 [10 favorites]


in some places this kind of minor electrical work is illegal to do

I think the illegality stems from an understood risk that poorly done amateur wiring causes house fires, and both the electricians' and insurers' lobbies have gotten various state laws and local ordinances built around licensed electricians doing the work.

But, you know, being conversant about the basics of electricity and how things work with it is pretty critical to self-reliance: understanding where the circuit panel is, which breakers control which wires, and religiously testing whether a house wire is hot, for example. Knowing those things is just good practice.

I don't think anyone's going to get in trouble for replacing a light switch and it's a like-for-like replacement. But do it very carefully, with the circuit OFF.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 6:57 AM on July 17


The youngs could call this How To Adult, Hardware Edition.

I've had good results using today's bleach Drano by augmenting it with a full kettle of boiling water after you've let it soak for a while.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:58 AM on July 17


in some places this kind of minor electrical work is illegal to do
What are they gonna do, fine me for burning my house down?
posted by aspersioncast at 7:07 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


when i first moved out on my own, the internet was basically still long, text-only arguments about whether kirk or picard was the better starfleet captain, this type of thing would have been incredibly useful

Agreed. I have seen news stories that high schools now are often offering credit courses on how to do all sort of things that adults should have in their arsenal: basic plumbing and electrical, but also budgeting, meal planning and cooking, and the like.

also picard obvsly
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:08 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


little magnetic [stud finders] ones work well, and are cheap and compact

And even cheaper and more compacter, if you have a couple of those really strong little magnets around, sandwich the end of a string between them and pendulum them along your wall until they stick to a screw, amazing your spouse and child!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:12 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I've had good results using today's bleach Drano by augmenting it with a full kettle of boiling water after you've let it soak for a while.

Presenting - a trufax discussion with my roommate two hours before I fixed the drains finally.
"Arrrgh, I just want this clog fixed."

"Did you try plunging it?"

"Yup. Didn't work."

"Well, there's this thing I heard about with baking soda and vinegar -"

"Yup. Did that twice. Didn't work."

"Well, I guess it's time for Drano -"

"Didn't work."

"It didn't work?"

"Nope. I used two bottles."

".....Drano didn't work?"

"Nope. I have also tried kettles of boiling water and megadoses of this enzyme drain stuff, repeatedly."

"....Huh."

"this stuff here from the hardware store is the latest thing, it's just that I have to give it up to 2 hours to work before flushing the pipes. I tried a half a bottle; if it doesn't work I'll try the rest of it again and wait another 2 hours."

"....And if that doesn't work?"

"I know a place where you can rent a plumber's snake and my friend J said he can come help operate it."

".....Good luck."
I had to use the second half of the bottle and the drains finally opened up at 12:30 am.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:14 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


We had a life skills course way back in the 1970s in my high school in Texas. I learned how to balance a checkbook, but also how to use a mechanical adding machine and typewriter. No electrical or plumbing, unfortunately.
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:20 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I have never had any product ever work to clean a drain, or even a slow drain. Days of it. Nothing. Nothing has ever worked for me except the manual way with a plumbing snake or paying a professional to do it.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:51 AM on July 17


I can do these things. I can also replace brake pads. My dad is a car guy and until I was 18, I lived in a house where my parents paid ridiculously low rent in exchange for my dad doing all the handy work. I'm the one who bought our household tools.

I grew up in a blue-collar household and the mister very much did not. Manual labor was something you hired people to do. When we bought our house, having been taught by my dad to do an oil change, the mister was exhilarated by the thought of DIY, whereas I was so ready to finally "have a guy for that."

We've been living here for ten years and none of the home improvement projects have gotten done because he doesn't have time to do them but is so stubbornly opposed to me hiring anyone. Ten years of crappy fake wood paneling! Or the clog that took him two weeks to fix (he works a lot and also travels a lot for work) so for two weeks, washing dishes involved the use of a wet/dry shop vac.

I can do a lot of DIY stuff, but I really want to give tradespeople my money instead.
posted by Ruki at 7:56 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


I just started a handyman business! It took a lot of reflection on what I wanted a new career to be, but having nice tools and fixing things that annoy people is definitely my jam. It's been a lot of wallpapering, so far, with a bit of installation of curtains and handles and the like. I've also been subbing in as the teacher for classes for women on exactly this sort of thing, drywall repair and caulking and whatnot.

Anyway, this is how I learned that smartphones can be metal detectors with the download of a free app. Find you some studs all day long.
posted by lauranesson at 8:30 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


replace a kitchen faucet

1. Remove all the bones in your body
2. Ooze into the tiny filthy cabinet under the sink
3. Note that it's hard to turn rusty awkwardly-placed bolts with flabby boneless nubs
4. Smash faucet with baseball bat to loosen bolts
5. Buy a new house
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:33 AM on July 17 [17 favorites]


Ten years of crappy fake wood paneling! Or the clog that took him two weeks to fix (he works a lot and also travels a lot for work) so for two weeks, washing dishes involved the use of a wet/dry shop vac.

I know that these are about handyman how-tos rather than personal finance or relationship repair, but the number one goal of all these is to follow a solid timeline, contingent on budget, that is generally shorter than 1 year, much less 10. Absent budget constraints - timelines - enforce them! Handymanning is great for those of us on a budget, where money is tighter than time.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:35 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


They go through the use of an electronic stud finder, and refer to "manual methods below," but don't show any.

There's a displayed "Finding Studs Manually" that's a link that, when clicked, expands out to two steps: "estimate the location", with helpful tips, and "tapping the wall".
posted by hanov3r at 8:58 AM on July 17


App for finding studs
Tinder?
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:11 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Yeah, or Grindr, depending.

But anyway, here's an Android version of the app.
posted by lauranesson at 10:24 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


real talk: i dont know how people adulted before the internet.

Parents/grandparents/guardians/neighbors would take the time to let little kids watch them fix things. With 3 channels on TV, no internet, and less obsession with organized sports for kids, weekend days were kind of long and filled with “hold this wrench” and “stir this bowl” tasks. Those kids presumably were supposed to do the same thing for the next generation. Some did that. Some didn’t.

YouTube is a revelation for those of us in houses with nonstandard everything.
posted by kimberussell at 10:27 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I astounded my housemates the other day by relighting the pilot on a gas water heater. We'd just had the gas furnace replaced, and when the hired professionals finished, they forgot to come back upstairs to restart the water heater. I thought about calling them back, but in the house I grew up in, the pilot light on both the furnace and the hot water heater went out regularly and I knew how to start them both by age 11. (It also helped in the "we should teach the kids this," that both of them were in relatively tight spaces - doable for an adult but infinitely easier for a kid to get to.) And even relighting the current one this time -- I had more trouble getting down to and up off the floor than I did lighting it.

This is a good reference for that though and I appreciate the posting of it. I'm vaguely handy about the house, but nowadays bigger projects have less to do with know-how and more to do with, do I have the energy to see this through?
posted by allandsome at 10:49 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


i dont know how people adulted before the internet.

I am literally the only person I work with who can do any of these things, and I learned how to do them before smart phones existed.

I wouldn't really make the argument that the internet has helped with adulting.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:25 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I had more trouble getting down to and up off the floor than I did lighting it.

Oh yeah. ;)
posted by Segundus at 12:50 PM on July 17


Finding studs in my house is pretty impossible. The interior walls have heavy coats of plaster over wooden lathe nailed to studs of random size at totally random spacing. I've never found a magnetic stud finder that worked worth a damn. I just drill holes until I hit something and then patch the rest.

The exterior walls don't have any wood at all; they're just plaster right over solid brick so hanging a picture involves drilling right into the brick and using a masonry anchor.
posted by octothorpe at 1:01 PM on July 17


My brother and I both learned fairly young how to switch back on a circuit in a circuit breaker. My father frequently joked that "the wiring in the house must have been done by someone blind", because the system for "which outlets are on the same fuse" seemed awfully random.

And one fuse in particular covered

* an outlet in my room
* an outlet in my brother's room
* an outlet in the bathroom
* two outlets in the kitchen.

So if, say, I was listening to the radio in my room and my brother also had the radio on in his room while my father was blow-drying his hair in the bathroom and Mom was making toast and coffee in the kitchen, that would blow the circuit.

....Since that was pretty much every damn morning, that circuit blew frequently, and my brother and I were taught how to fix it so we would be a pair of extra sets of hands to trot down to the basement and fix the circuit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:06 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I've lived in places like that, although in one of them it made a little more sense when we figured out that most of the outlets actually shared a wall that had been used to partition a much bigger room.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:28 PM on July 17


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