Houses are complicated, and it takes time to learn how all the systems work. Here are five basic skills to get you started.

Unclog a Drain

When the sink or shower stops draining, it’s not always necessary to call a plumber. Try a chemical drain cleaner or pick up a drain snake, which can be extended into the drain and remove the blockage—sometimes a coat hanger will do the trick in a pinch. 

Turn Off the Water

You should know where the main water valve is for the house. For many properties, it’s located near the street a few feet downstream of your water meter. Others have it in a crawl space where the water supply enters the house. If a pipe bursts or you want to perform certain plumbing repairs, you’ll need to shut off the water to avoid a flood.

Change Filters

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioner systems (HVAC) use filters to trap dust and pollen. These filters fill with debris over time, restricting the flow of air and straining the system. You need to replace them regularly, so find out where they’re located. Depending on the size of your home and the type of system, you may have several filters. 

Find a Stud

Want to hang something heavy on your wall? It’s safest to anchor it in a stud—the vertical piece of wood that supports your walls and drywall. You can buy an electronic device to find the stud, but it’s also possible to find the stud on your own, as most are spaced 16 inches apart. Electrical outlets are mounted to studs, and there are studs in corners of a room. Start at either of those points and measure the appropriate multiple of 16 to the location where you need to hang something. 

Open the Garage Door When the Power is Out

You need to drive to work but you’ve lost power. Don’t worry. Pull the cord hanging from the middle of your garage close to the door. That action will disconnect the opener from its chain and allow you to manually raise and lower the door. Be sure reconnect it after you leave to secure the door in its closed position. 



This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.