Overcoming a Handyman Handicap One Faucet at a Time

In our previous house, when the water from the faucet in our upstairs bathroom went from flowing freely to flowing slowly, at first it was just an annoyance. But when it slowed so much that it could barely rinse a toothbrush, I got worried.

My mind filled with fears of having to replace every last bit of plumbing in our house. I envisioned our plumber’s kids graduating from college courtesy of our life savings.

Such are the mad thoughts to one who is home maintenance challenged.

But then a few semi-rational thoughts made their way into my mind. None of the other faucets were running slowly, so it couldn’t be a whole-house plumbing problem, right?

Grabbing a wrench, and a computer

After ruling out the possibility that one of our kids tampered with the knobs underneath the sink, I turned to the Internet. Still fearing what I might discover, I forced my trembling fingers to type, “fixing one slow faucet.” With several results mentioning “aerator,” a term I thought only applied to poking holes in your yard for reasons that are still a mystery to me, I discovered that unscrewing the tip of the faucet and soaking the parts in vinegar may solve the problem. And to my amazement, it did!

At first, I felt like the worst player on a little league team who sticks his glove in the air out of self-defense and miraculously catches the game-winning fly ball.

But then I felt proud of myself for figuring out the problem and saving the $125 our plumber would have charged. It motivated to learn how to do more around the house myself, and I’m intent on teaching our kids how to fix stuff, too.

Raising handy kids

In order to help our kids grow up to be handy around the house, I’m involving them in the projects I’m learning how to do.

Recently, the handle on one of our closet doors stopped working. It turned but wouldn’t move the latch that enabled us to open the door. After a lot of wiggling and some fidgeting with a screwdriver, I got it open. At that point, I taped the latch, and we lived with it like that for a while.

Finally, I decided to buy a new handle. I was about to open the package, read the instructions, and then replace the handle, figuring that if I really applied myself, the job would probably take me about a week and a half. 

But then I stopped myself and decided this would be a good learning opportunity for our then fourteen-year-old. Still, some festering micro-manager tendencies tempted me to first open the package, read the instructions, and then supervise the job. Catching myself again, I handed the unopened package to my son and challenged him to figure it out, offering him $5 for the job.

He had the handle installed in no time, learning a simple handyman skill all people should probably know (although I still don’t) and gaining a lot of confidence and satisfaction in the process. 

You can do it — they can help

There’s plenty of helpful advice available online, including from Home Depot, Lowe’s, the Family Handyman, and This Old House. But you can just type questions into the Internet as well, which is what I did to fix our faucet.

What advice do you have about becoming handier around the house?

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6 Responses to Overcoming a Handyman Handicap One Faucet at a Time

  1. Al August 17, 2021 at 4:35 PM #

    My advice — make a lot of money and send the plumber’s kids to college!

    • Matt Bell August 17, 2021 at 9:15 PM #

      Ha! I just wish my plumber’s kids didn’t have their sights set on private schools!

  2. Mary August 17, 2021 at 3:51 PM #

    Sorry but for some not a good out come. Also need wisdom to know WHEN to call a professional!
    My husband has several times taken the challenge and not only not fixed the problem but created a new on so then we had two repair bills….

    • Matt Bell August 17, 2021 at 9:13 PM #

      Absolutely, Mary. Good to know your limitations. I generally stay away from anything electrical.

  3. Aaron August 17, 2021 at 2:26 PM #

    So timely, Matt. After discovering a similar leak in our bathtub, thoughts about tearing apart the whole bathroom filled my mind. This led a search through YouTube videos and eventually to making a call to our resident handyman. What I have learned from also being “home maintenance challenged” is the fears are often bigger than I had anticipated, things are often simpler and help is just around the internet or corner. Once I’ve apologized for watching over his/her shoulder, I usually learn a lot from our visiting repairperson. YouTubes are also a great way to learn – almost anything.

    • Matt Bell August 17, 2021 at 9:11 PM #

      Great to see you here, Aaron. And I agree about fears often being bigger than the job at hand. Once you fix a thing or two, it brings confidence. I just wish I had started down that path earlier!

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