By Ron VandenBoom
If trying to do simple home repair makes you feel like Tim Taylor reliving an episode of "Home Improvement," then Cabin Fever's Home Repair class might just have been the answer to your prayers.
Mike Vogel, housing and environmental quality specialist for the MSU-Bozeman extension service, served up a heaping portion of home repair advice Wednesday to a class of six enthusiastic students.
"I can't emphasize enough the importance of preventative maintenance," Vogel told his class as he discussed the reasons why people should care about home repairs. "It can reduce unnecessary repair bills and the possibility of hazards."
Vogel emphasized that too many people wait until a modest maintenance job becomes a major repair before they attend to the problem, "and then they have to call a professional to fix it," he said.
Vogel cited one example where the spray hose on his own kitchen faucet started to leak while he was out of town.
"My wife had to call a plumber ...," he told the class. "It cost $220 to replace the faucet."
It was a job Vogel said he could have done himself for about $80.
Preventative maintenance is also something that will improve the visual appearance, or what is known as "curb appeal," of a home-owner's property.
These are things that Vogel said also correlate with lists used by the American Society of Home Inspectors when they come in to inspect a home.
Vogel suggested that home owners get to know their homes and strive to understand how they are constructed.
"Find some good books or magazines on the basics of construction," Vogel said. "Learn what's inside your walls. Understand how basic things work."
He suggested that a library or local lumber yard is a good place to start looking for literature on the subject and other possibilities include video rental stores and home repair clinics.
The class covered topics ranging from the selection of interior and exterior paint, vinyl flooring, and electrical to plumbing problems and minor toilet repairs.
Vogel placed plumbing at the top of his home maintenance list, noting that more questions come his way about plumbing than any other area. He provided hands-on demonstrations on how to fix leaky faucets and replace washers, o-rings, and seats in the fixtures.
He also, using a model of the inside of a toilet tank, demonstrated the basics workings of the bathroom appliance and some of the most common problems home-owners encounter. These included how to replace washers and balls on the ballcock assembly, how to adjust the water level in the tank, and what type of float is best to use.
Vogel suggested that before the do-it-yourselfer tackles any repair, he should think the project all the way through and write down the steps as he takes things apart.
"That becomes your instruction backwards," he said, noting that many people forget how to put things back together once they've taken them apart.
Vogel continued the home repair series Wednesday afternoon with a class on "Home Inspections," and followed it up today with "Home Remodeling."