Learning how to fix/repair things

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Triple digit golfer
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Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by Triple digit golfer » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:05 pm

I am a relatively new homeowner and very inexperienced with fixing things around the house and how things work. It's not that I'm not capable, I just don't know where to begin on a lot of things. I've had my dad and father-in-law help me with various things and once I know what I'm doing, I am perfectly willing and able to do the job.

While my dad is always willing to help, I would like to be able to learn some of these things on my own and complete a moderately difficult project without help.

Here are just a few ideas of things I'd like to learn how to do:

-Remove and replace tile flooring, backsplash, or wall tile in the shower/bathtub
-Remove grout and replace with caulk
-How to install a laundry sink
-How to install a toilet

The list goes on and on.

In most cases I can figure it out by hunting for a good YouTube video, but was hoping Bogleheads would have a good suggestion for either a book, YouTube channel, or website that has a good selection of various videos that are dumbed down and easy to understand, rather than me blindly going to YouTube and searching through dozens of videos from various sources.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by Sandtrap » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:07 pm

YouTube.
Home Depot.
Just do it.
Easy.

j.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by WhyNotUs » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:09 pm

Youtube is better than most books. Look for better production quality and good comments to streamline selection.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

new2bogle
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by new2bogle » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:09 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:07 pm
YouTube.
Home Depot.
Just do it.
Easy.

j.
+1. This is how I learned. Not sure how people did it before youtube.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by Sandtrap » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:12 pm

new2bogle wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:09 pm
Sandtrap wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:07 pm
YouTube.
Home Depot.
Just do it.
Easy.

j.
+1. This is how I learned. Not sure how people did it before youtube.
Before YouTube.
. . . . the black wire will melt the end of the screwdriver. . . .
. . . green wire is okay. . . .
:shock:

dknightd
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by dknightd » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:19 pm

There are books. But nowadays probably google or similar is the way to go.
When I bought my house I bought a book on home repair. I can't remember the last time I looked at it.

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Pajamas
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by Pajamas » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:29 pm

Years ago, I found the Time Life Basic Wiring book to be very helpful in installing lighting fixtures, new outlets, ceiling fans, and dealing with basic copper telephone wires. Got it for just a few dollars on Amazon. But I agree that there is no point in that now because basically most all of human knowledge is at your fingertips via Google and the internet. YouTube is especially helpful because you can see someone doing what you need to do but the videos are more time consuming than reading, even if you skip ahead. You probably wouldn't find information you needed for an exact model of appliance or model of car in a general book, but you can find it on the internet. For instance, resetting the code on a car.

For plumbing beyond changing a washer or replacing toilet parts, I get someone else to do it, but one of the advantages of living in an apartment building is having a handyman available at all times at a low cost. It's easily worth the $20 to have someone else change the ring seal under a toilet or open up the trap under the sink to snake the drain even though I could do those tasks myself. Don't have to buy the tools or make a trip to the hardware store to buy the supplies, either. If I had to pay $150 or whatever it costs for a plumber, however, I would do it myself.

tesuzuki2002
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by tesuzuki2002 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:42 pm

Triple digit golfer wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:05 pm
I am a relatively new homeowner and very inexperienced with fixing things around the house and how things work. It's not that I'm not capable, I just don't know where to begin on a lot of things. I've had my dad and father-in-law help me with various things and once I know what I'm doing, I am perfectly willing and able to do the job.

While my dad is always willing to help, I would like to be able to learn some of these things on my own and complete a moderately difficult project without help.

Here are just a few ideas of things I'd like to learn how to do:

-Remove and replace tile flooring, backsplash, or wall tile in the shower/bathtub
-Remove grout and replace with caulk
-How to install a laundry sink
-How to install a toilet

The list goes on and on.

In most cases I can figure it out by hunting for a good YouTube video, but was hoping Bogleheads would have a good suggestion for either a book, YouTube channel, or website that has a good selection of various videos that are dumbed down and easy to understand, rather than me blindly going to YouTube and searching through dozens of videos from various sources.
Simple stuff! Skills that any adult should really be capable of. Go to the library and get a few books. or there is youtube nowadays,.

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Van-Guard23
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by Van-Guard23 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:11 pm

Triple digit golfer wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:05 pm
I am a relatively new homeowner and very inexperienced with fixing things around the house and how things work. It's not that I'm not capable, I just don't know where to begin on a lot of things. I've had my dad and father-in-law help me with various things and once I know what I'm doing, I am perfectly willing and able to do the job.

While my dad is always willing to help, I would like to be able to learn some of these things on my own and complete a moderately difficult project without help.

Here are just a few ideas of things I'd like to learn how to do:

-Remove and replace tile flooring, backsplash, or wall tile in the shower/bathtub
-Remove grout and replace with caulk
-How to install a laundry sink
-How to install a toilet

The list goes on and on.

In most cases I can figure it out by hunting for a good YouTube video, but was hoping Bogleheads would have a good suggestion for either a book, YouTube channel, or website that has a good selection of various videos that are dumbed down and easy to understand, rather than me blindly going to YouTube and searching through dozens of videos from various sources.
As others have mentioned, YouTube should be one of your best source of instruction. While getting our house ready for listing and after the home inspection, YouTube was my “go to” source for repairs/replacements I haven’t done before. As others have said, however, you might have to weed through some videos with poor quality and subpar instruction.
"I have only come here seeking knowledge. Things they wouldn't teach me of in college" | The Police "Wrapped Around Your Finger"

telecaster
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by telecaster » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:49 pm

Yeah, you tube is awesome. But like anything in life, experience is the best teacher. Start your projects in closets, in the garage, or best yet at a friend's house :).

You'll notice each time you do something the quality and workmanship improves. If you have someone that knows more, work alongside of them and pick their brain. I hired a plumber exactly once when I first bought my house and failed at a water heater installation. I talked to him ahead of time and made it a prerequisite that I could watch him and ask questions and learn from him. He fixed my f'ups and I've been on my own since.

Don't be afraid to try. You'll know when something isn't right, and the important thing is to step back and redo in those cases. Don't just let it go, it will bother you the rest of your time in the home.

Finally, don't just rely on YouTube. Videos (good ones) show you how to do one specific task. Reading books and working with/alongside professionals teaches you a craft. And parts of being a craftsmen lets you know what to do in situations where things stray off the beaten path.

Good luck!

JoeRetire
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by JoeRetire » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:05 pm

Triple digit golfer wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:05 pm
In most cases I can figure it out by hunting for a good YouTube video, but was hoping Bogleheads would have a good suggestion for either a book, YouTube channel, or website that has a good selection of various videos that are dumbed down and easy to understand, rather than me blindly going to YouTube and searching through dozens of videos from various sources.
YouTube
Google Search
Neighbor with skills
Dad

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Sandtrap
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by Sandtrap » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:29 pm

JoeRetire wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:05 pm
Triple digit golfer wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:05 pm
In most cases I can figure it out by hunting for a good YouTube video, but was hoping Bogleheads would have a good suggestion for either a book, YouTube channel, or website that has a good selection of various videos that are dumbed down and easy to understand, rather than me blindly going to YouTube and searching through dozens of videos from various sources.
YouTube
Google Search
Neighbor with skills
Dad
+1
Dad taught me how to change the "tubes" in the back of the TV set, and fix the typewriter, and the toaster, . . . . . :shock:

Dottie57
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by Dottie57 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:34 pm

WhyNotUs wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:09 pm
Youtube is better than most books. Look for better production quality and good comments to streamline selection.
Youtube plus the books works for me..

mxs
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by mxs » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:44 pm

Installing a sink and toilet are a lot easier than you may think, especially if the plumbing is already roughed in. As long as you have a second toilet or sink (or whatever you are working on) you have time to figure it out and get it done right.

Atilla
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by Atilla » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:52 pm

I learned how to install and tune a 383 stroker motor into an old Camaro right before the Internet became useful.

Now with You Tube you can be completely clueless and if you are a capable person with basic mechanical skills do a lot of stuff on your own.

The key is to have acquired basic skills and have the appropriate patience to not either give up or rush forward when you reach an obstacle. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance taught me a lot - along with practice. Sometimes you need to walk away for an hour or a day and ponder before you tackle the problem again.
The Village Idiot - here for your entertainment.

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whodidntante
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by whodidntante » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:53 pm

Don't get so hung up on analyzing it that you forget to start. Even if you plan reasonably well, you might still need to go to the hardware store once or twice more to deal with the unexpected. It's not like you replace sinks for a living.

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Bogle7
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Book learning

Post by Bogle7 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:37 am

This book was famous in its day:
https://www.amazon.com/Readers-Digest-C ... 895770105/

There are newer replacements.

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tennisplyr
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by tennisplyr » Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:56 am

Maybe I'm old school, good books at a book store. Helpful that you can keep the book open as you work rather than scrolling through things. Just do it.
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.

J295
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by J295 » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:04 am

Something else for you to consider… When we were younger (and had less resources) we did some things ourselves, but certain things we left to the professionals. These were things that might have a serious safety issue, or were important from a cosmetic standpoint. For example, I’m looking at some beautiful subway tile in our renovated kitchen. Personally, I would never do this myself because it is extremely difficult for an amateur to get it right. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it tends to be better when it’s done by someone who has done it for 10 years every day then someone who is giving it a run for the first time. And, in our case, it is extremely visible and important with an open floor plan. Probably wouldn’t care so much about a basement bathroom that rarely gets used. Just some food for thought.

carolinaman
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by carolinaman » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:06 am

When we bought our home 45 years ago, I tried to fix things myself although not the best handyman. I had a good repair book that I used but the most helpful was this owner of a small independent hardware. He could tell you how to repair anything and sell you the parts you need. Nowadays, try that at Home Depot or Lowes. I really miss that store. I paid a little more for stuff but it was well worth it for his help.

Youtube is usually good, but not all of the how-to-fix-this are applicable to my situation but that is not always obvious in the beginning. One needs to be selective and discerning with youtube.

whomever
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by whomever » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:06 am

1)I tiled my first bathroom a couple of years ago after reading a book called 'Tiling 1-2-3' (only a couple bucks from a used book store!) and some internet research (youtube and forums) for specific questions.

One way to look at things is 'what's the worst that could go wrong?'. In my case, the old tile was falling off the walls already, and the tile I put up wasn't anything fancy, so the worst case outcome was that I got half way through and started over.

In general, I consider
-the worst thing that could go wrong (classic example - felling a big tree near the house)
-the money I'll save DIY vs hiring. This includes money I might have to spend on tools, as well as how likely I will be to amortize those expenses over repeat jobs
-the time spent. This can work both ways - a pro will be able to do any single job faster, but I may have to spend time getting bids, etc, as well as take time off from work to be there while the work is done, vs DIY time on weekends.

2)You didn't ask about wiring, but many moons ago I got a copy of 'House Wiring Simplified'. I see a number of editions with wildly varying prices. It's not the book if you're thinking of installing a subpanel but it very clearly explains the elementary stuff - how to wire an outlet or the mysteries of three way switches.

3)Whenever you do hire a contractor, watch and learn. Similarly, if you have DIY friends, offer to help on their projects.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:14 am

Walk around construction job sites, home construction at various stages, in a subdivision on Sunday's when nobody is around (as long as not fenced in). You will be able to then visualize the "anatomy" of your own home in all areas. Circulatory system.(water) Respiratory system. (HVAC) Digestive system. (DWV) Nerve system. (Electrical), etc.

BeerTooth
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by BeerTooth » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:29 am

John Bridge forum is great for ceramic tile work advice: http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/index.php

Terry Love forum is the equivalent for plumbing https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php

The wealth of knowledge that hangs out there is incredible. Post a clearly-posed question, and some accompanying photos, be humble and eager to learn, and you will get some great advice and instruction

mariezzz
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by mariezzz » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:34 pm

Spend a lot of time reading on the internet at various sites. You need to be able to figure out who knows what they're talking about & filter out the garbage. Many "handymen" do not really do things correctly (especially when it comes to tiling). Every once in a while you'll get good advice from someone at a big box hardware, but more often than not, you don't.

Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is a good way to get practical experience under supervision. What you learn will come in handy some day, if not immediately.

Putting in floor tile: start small, with a bathroom. Putting in tiles in showers and baths is very technical, as you need to have a water-tight underlying structure (tiles/grout are porous). I would not suggest doing those as a first project.
diychatroom is a good web site, in addition to the others mentioned. Don't buy the cheap Home Depot mortar - buy something better like mapec at Lowe's (might need more specialized stuff if you used 12x24 or larger tiles - don't use those for your first project. Mortar & grout has a shelf life - look at the expiration dates). Be sure to pay attention to the type needed. If you use the schluter-ditra (S-D) orange waffle stuff, you needed one type of mortar under it; another type between the tile & orange waffle stuff (I can't remember the details, but the issue is that if you use the wrong stuff, it won't cure correctly. diychatroom has the details in various threads. S-D is a little more expensive, but it's far easier to work with & doesn't add as much height as cement backer board) JazMan at diychatroom is the person to listen to where tiling is concerned, esp. using S-D. He's really generous with his advice and knows what he's talking about.

With tiling, you have to be willing to work slowly, and really pay attention to detail. Get your lines straight. Think about how tiles should fall around doors, toilets, etc. Buy a 3 foot level & constantly check the tiles are level. Pull up tiles that aren't, scrape off mortar, and start over. Keep mortar out of the space between the tiles (popsicle sticks are good for this) - you want grout to fill that space. Mix up mortar in smaller batches - enough for 6-8 tiles at first, so you can fiddle. Think about whether the floor is solid enough (natural stone tiles are more brittle than porcelain, so the floor needs to not deflect as much).

If you do the work yourself, and end up not liking it, you might be out a few hundred dollars if you decide to rip it up and start over. If you're detail oriented and spend time researching the details, you'll probably do better work than 75% of handymen out there - with any home repair work.

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jharkin
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Re: Book learning

Post by jharkin » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:39 pm

Bogle7 wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:37 am
This book was famous in its day:
https://www.amazon.com/Readers-Digest-C ... 895770105/

There are newer replacements.
I still have that. Great basic reference. As you get beyond its scope in specific areas you can get more in depth books, like the Tuanton's "build like a pro" series, the Black and Decker books on electrical code, etc...

You can also lurk in contractor forums to learn a lot - jlconline.com for general contracting, electriciantalk.com, painttalk.com, etc.

And look at trade reference libraries - inspectapedia.com is a gold mine of knowledge, and buildingscience.com is great for energy efficiency and insulation topics.

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mrc
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by mrc » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:45 pm

I learned a lot from the Time-life Home Repair & Improvement Set ( 36-volume Set) Hardcover – 1977.

Buy good quality tools, cheap ones will let you down and you'll but another better one anyway.

Use care around sharp things, and electricity.

Haven't cracked a book in years, but I have checked out youtube for refreshers and googled for some weird situations.
If it’s not long term it’s small talk

barnaclebob
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by barnaclebob » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:57 pm

whomever wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:06 am
It's not the book if you're thinking of installing a subpanel but it very clearly explains the elementary stuff - how to wire an outlet or the mysteries of three way switches.
Installing a sub panel is actually pretty easy. Its just a pretty normal circuit that you make more circuits from. The only thing difficult with house wiring is running the wires themselves assuming you aren't chasing down some weird gremlin and dealing with a properly installed system in the first place.

OP, start watching "Ask This Old House" on the PBS streaming channel.

dowse
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Re: Book learning

Post by dowse » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:19 pm

Bogle7 wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:37 am
This book was famous in its day:
https://www.amazon.com/Readers-Digest-C ... 895770105/

There are newer replacements.
I own a copy of that, and I still refer to it occasionally. It was a great resource in the days before the internet and YouTube.

YouTube is a great resource if you already possess some basic skills, but it won't help you hit the head of a nail with more accuracy. Only practice can do that. One of the best uses for YouTube for me is simply to see how things that need to be disassembled are fastened, so that I don't end up breaking off plastic tabs, etc.

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lthenderson
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by lthenderson » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:13 pm

Triple digit golfer wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:05 pm
-Remove grout and replace with caulk
Not sure in what context you are referring to but unless it was in a context where someone used grout when they should have originally used caulking, replacing grout with caulk is a bad idea.

Often times in wet situations, if you use caulking instead of grout, it will trap moisture leading to a mold growing in your caulking. Many times you are just masking other problems like an improperly installed subfloor.

To your original question, I think Youtube is great for learning DIY projects and is where I always start. If I want to know theory about why to do something, then books are a better resource. Often home improvement shows like Ask This Old House will go into the theory of why you should do something one way or another. Check their websites for searchable video clips.

Triple digit golfer
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Re: Learning how to fix/repair things

Post by Triple digit golfer » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:26 am

Thank you everybody. Some good advice here. I have bookmarked the forums that you all recommended and will check those out and pose some questions on specific projects when the time comes.

lthenderson - yes, the shower has grout between the shower floor and first tile. It should be caulked.

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