Monday, September 5, 2011

Top 10 Repair Projects You Should Never Pay For

Things break down, whether due to accidents, negligence, or just plain wear and tear. Instead of shelling out for an expensive repair or replacement, though, you can often fix the problem yourself for much less. Here are 10 repairs you should never pay for.

Image from Refat/Shutterstock

10. Bicycles

Bicycles are quick to break down, especially if you don't treat them properly, but that doesn't mean you need to take it in for repairs every few months. Most of the fixes you can easily do yourself at home. Check out The Bicycle Tutor for instructions on how to perform pretty much any fix you could ever need, and if you need a repair stand, you can always make one of those for yourself too.

9. Headphones

It always seems inevitable that your headphone cords are going to start fraying, the 'buds will detach themselves, and you'll be stuck buying another pair. Instead of buying new 'phones, though, you can easily fix those stripped wires with a bit of Plasti Dip. Alternatively, if it's the actual connector that's causing problems, you can replace that yourself in a jiffy as well. And, in the future, make sure you wrap your headphones correctly instead of just waiting for the inevitable—we've featured a ton of different ways to do this, so there's no excuse to just let them get ruined!

8. Plumbing

There are certainly times where you want a licensed plumber on the job, but you don't need to call them for every little clog and leak you get. We've shown you how to unclog almost any drain, from the sink to the shower to the toilet. If you're feeling in the mood for a MacGyver trick, we've also mentioned how to fix your toilet with aluminum foil, use food coloring to diagnose a leak, use a stethoscope to locate a leak, and how to make your own homemade Drano without the harsh chemicals.

7. Clothing

Finding the perfect tailor is great for your nice suits and pants, but when it comes to the minor sewing projects, you shouldn't have to bother them—just fix them yourself at home. Learn the basics of sewing and you'll be ready to take on all sorts of DIY clothing projects—from sewing a button back on to fixing size issues in your new favorite button-down shirt.

6. Laptop Power Cords

You may keep your laptop in perfect condition, but that power cord probably still takes a lot of abuse—from the constant coiling and packing to people tripping over it in the coffee shop. Once the ends start to fray, many people would head off to the store to buy a new one, but not you. If it's of the Apple variety, you know you can just open it up and add a new cable, and then learn how to wrap it properly in the future. However, for an easier fix, you can patch up just about any power cord with a bit of Sugru—heck, you could even throw the Sugru on before it frays to give it some extra protection.

5. Phones and Other Mobile Gadgets

No matter how careful you handle your phone, accidents happen, but you can save some cash by fixing it yourself. Repairing an iPhone screen is rather easy (heck, even a 10 year old can do it), and so is replacing its dead battery. If your iPod isn't booting, you might be able to fix it with just a business card, and even older non-smartphones are fairly easy to fix. No matter what gadget you have, you can head over to repair site iFixit to see a full teardown guide. You might have to buy a replacement screen, battery, or other part online, but it'll be a lot cheaper than buying a new one. Photo by Lars Plougmann.

4. LCD Monitors and TVs

Top 10 Repair Projects You Should Never Pay ForThere's nothing worse than turning on your computer only to see a dead pixel right in the middle of the screen, ready to eat away at you until you go crazy and buy a new monitor. Luckily, these pixels are often just stuck, not dead, and you can fix them with computer programs, by massaging it away, or, if it really is dead, you can bring it back to life with a damp cloth. If you've burned an image into your LCD instead, you can fix that too with a white screen saver. If it does come time to replace it, do what you have to do—but if it's a laptop monitor, you might want to try replacing the screen yourself instead of sending it in for repairs (or buying a whole new laptop). Photo by whyohwhyohwhyoh.

3. Cars

While you aren't equipped to fix more complicated automobile problems, you can easily pull off lots of the low-level maintenance stuff yourself, without taking a costly trip to the dealership. Learn how to change a tire yourself, and check out VehicleFixer for videos on how to change the oil, replace your brake pads, and more. If you have a small dent in your car, you may even be able to fix that with a can of compressed air and a hairdryer. Note that while these are all things you can do yourself, minor jobs are also useful for testing out new mechanics—so don't be afraid to hand that brake job over once in a while if you're trying out someone new.

2. Your House

The walls and floor of your house are subject to wear and tear just like everything else, but much of it you can fix right on the spot. Repairing wall damage is easy, and you can always fill in floor holes with a melted crayon, fix stripped screw holes with a golf tee, and even fix cracks in your furniture with mayonnaise. If you want to get a few DIY skills for the future, we can't recommend volunteering enough—working on a site with someone like Habitat for Humanity is a great way to learn more about home repair while doing something good in the process. Of course, when the problem is serious enough that you need to call a contractor, make sure you don't get hosed in the process. Photo by Sharon Pruitt.

1. Computers

As many of you may know, rarely should you need to take your computer into the Geek Squad to get it fixed up. Whether it's your computer, your roommate's, or another friend's, we've got a guide to repairing just about any problem they could have, as well as diagnosing a computer that's just plain slow. If it's a hardware problem, you can always head to iFixit for instructions on how to repair Macs, or open up that PC and see what might be causing the problem. Some hardware can even be fixed at home, like if your CPU pins are bent or if your video card's solder points have become loose. Whatever the issue, make sure you read up on computer maintenance when you're done, so you can avoid the problem in the future.

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