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5 Life Hacks for the Beginner Handyman


Where do you actually learn how to be a handyman? The answer to this question may vary. Sometimes it’s learning from your old man. Other times, you’re simply the only guy who reads the instructions. No matter what, though, knowing your way around the toolbox is always a good thing. Learn these 5 useful life hacks to improve your work!

  1. Pull the Ole Nintendo on Your Garbage Disposal

A broken garbage disposal is actually a huge headache. Sure, you might have gotten along fine before you had one, but those were the days that dishes took a year to do.

Before you begin, make sure you get under the sink and unplug the disposal unit itself (Many sinks have an outlet underneath them, just open the door and poke around for it.). If you can’t find that, flip the circuit breaker that gives power to the disposal. Once the power is off, duck under the sink again and find a button underneath the cylinder that houses the disposal mechanism. This is the reset button. Push it. You should hear a click to let you know you’ve done it.

Next, see if you can locate any debris stuck in the mouth of the disposal. This is when you need to be absolutely certain that no power is going to it. Remove everything you can. Flip the power back on and check if it’s working. If so, congratulations. If not, there is still one last thing you can do: manually dislodge what’s keeping the blades stuck. For this method, you’ll need an Allen wrench/hex key. There is a small socket in the middle of the bottom of the disposal unit the key can fit into. Turn the key either way—this is essentially moving the grinders of the unit manually. Turn back and forth a couple times to ensure you got what was keeping the grinders stuck and try flipping the switch again. This should take care of it.


  1. Stop a Toilet that Doesn’t Stop Running

That sound.  It’s a torturous sound that can keep a guy up at night.  A constantly running toilet not only drives you nuts, it can waste money, too—flushing dollars down the drain and into the septic tank when your water bill shows up.

If your toilet is running, reach behind it and turn the water off. Next, lift the top of the tank. More often than not, you’ll find that the flapper or the flush valve has a problem, leaving the tank constantly emptying into the toilet bowl. The fix can range from a readjustment of the float and the arm (so the tank gets plugged) to a complete replacement of the tank’s interior parts—a fix that might run you $20. It’s mostly a snap-and-place fixture and you should be able to figure it out just by looking at it.

  1. Hammer a Nail—Not Your Hand

To assuage your fear of bashing your fingertips while driving a nail into a harder material that requires some force, set the nail in place and hold the rod with pliers as you hammer away. If you don’t have pliers, a fine-toothed plastic comb works wonders, too. If you’re working with multiple nails in close proximity, you can also use it as a rudimentary straight edge as well.


  1. Fix a Clogged Drain

Many clogs can be fixed with liquid or gel drain cleaners, but if you’re facing something that’s got the whole thing backed up, get ready for a potentially messy fix.

First, you can try plunging it—yes, with the same tool that you might have thought was only for the toilet. Plunge it like you normally would a toilet—with a sink plunger of course. The next time you’re around a plunger, take a look at it. Does it have an extended part that goes beyond the dome shape? If so, that’s a toilet plunger—that extra three inches or so is to get deep down into the basin. If it’s just the dome/bowl, then you very well might be using a sink plunger to do a toilet plunger’s job.

If that doesn’t work, search for a clean-out plug on the main pipe. This handy opening (once unscrewed with a wrench) gives you access to the pipes without disassembly. Use a flexible, but a tough brush to get in there and poke around to see if you can clear out any blockages. (Be very careful if you’ve already poured drain cleaners down the drain.)

Be sure to have a bucket on hand below the plug, though, as you don’t want any water splashing down on the floor while you wow everyone with your plumbing skills.


  1. Know Your Homemade Cleaning Solutions

We know that you don’t need any instructions to know how to do a good job. But’s it’s hard to do a good job when you’re overcome by chlorine gas—you know, the stuff the Germans used in World War I, which is created when you mix bleach and vinegar. Mixing bleach with ammonia, you’ll end up with some nitrogen chlorides, another nasty airborne poison. Just know what’s in the things you’re using. Here are some usual suspects that, while you might not think it, most likely contain ammonia:

  • Glass cleaners
  • Multi-surface cleaners
  • Chemical drain cleaners
  • Toilet/bathroom cleaning solution

Yes, there are bleaches that don’t contain sodium hypochlorite, but it’s not worth risking, really. But when it comes to stain removal and household cleaning, baking soda and white vinegar on their own or in conjunction work well.

Pouring down 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar can clear a clogged drain. (Finally, a reason to recreate the volcano you made for the science fair.) Just be sure to wash it down afterward.

We hope these tips will help you make your life much easier and you improve yourself as a professional. Open your personal service store on Markate Service Mall.

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