Outdoor Home Repairs You Can Totally Handle Yourself

Outdoor Home Repairs You Can Totally Handle Yourself

In the mood for some DIY? Here are seven common outdoor repairs you can do yourself, no experience necessary.

Lead image by VoodooDot and Johannes Kornelius

These are mostly beginner-level projects that are fairly easy to do and can save you a lot of money if you tackle them yourself.

First: Know What You Can Handle And When to Get Help

Most of these projects are straightforward and don't require any prerequisite skills other than a familiarity with basic tools. Still, make sure you understand and are comfortable with the steps you'll be taking during the repair before you get started. If you need help, don't be shy about getting it. We've selected some pretty good videos, but you may find more out there that are more suited to your particular situation.

If you have questions about specific parts or supplies, the folks at the hardware store will usually have a good answer for you. Come equipped with the details of your project and some pictures, if you can. They will point you in the right direction. And of course, if at any time you feel like you might be in over your head, stop before you make things worse and consider calling a pro.

Repair A Leaky Outdoor Tap

Repairing a leaky outdoor tap is usually a pretty simple fix. Leaks happen at one of two places: the handle or the spout. If the leak is coming from the handle, the first thing to try is using a spanner to tighten the packing nut, which is the nut located just behind the handle itself. If that doesn't fix the leak, or if the leak is coming from the tap, you'll need to take the handle apart. Before you do that, make sure you turn the water off at the source. If you're not sure how to do that, check out our article on home plumbing projects.

As shown in the video above from A4WE, disassembly is pretty straightforward. You'll remove the handle, take off the packing nut, and pull out the valve stem assembly. Chances are that you'll just need to replace the washers rather than the whole assembly. You'll be able to spot if they are worn or cracked. Even if you do need to replace the assembly, it's a pretty cheap fix. Just take the old one to the hardware store with you so you know you're buying the right thing.

Tools/materials you'll need:

  • Screwdriver (Phillips)
  • Crescent or other adjustable spanner
  • Replacement washers or valve stem assembly

Repair Landscape Lights

Landscape lights are a great way to add accent to a dark yard. The simplest problem to fix is when a landscape light refuses to stand up straight and the solution for this is usually just buying a bigger ground stake to attach to the light. Many lights have a standard thread size, making it easy to swap out stakes, but you might want to take the old stake (or the light) with you when you go to buy replacement stakes.

The other problem is when the landscape light doesn't come on. If the bulb is bad, then it's a simple case of replacing it. Changing a bulb in a landscape light is almost as easy as changing a bulb in your home. You'll just want to make sure you buy replacement bulbs that are the same wattage, voltage, and size as the bulb you're replacing. If it's a more complex cabling problem, you're going to need an electrician. This is why solar-powered lights are often less hassle!

Repair A Garden Hose

Troubleshooting a leaking garden hose almost always boils down to one of two things. If the hose is leaking at the point of connection with a sprayer or another hose, you'll need to replace the washer that's nestled inside that connection, as shown in the video above from Your Own Victory Garden. Pull the old one out and take it with you to get a replacement. Or, just buy a bag of replacement washers. They're not at all expensive.

If the actual hose leaks due to a tear or cut, you'll need to patch the hose. If it's a minor break, you can often patch it with just duct tape. If it's a bigger break, you'll need to cut the section of hose with the break out and then attach the two clean ends of hose together using a hose mender insert and two hose clamps. If the end of the hose leaks or has gotten damaged, you can cut off the end of the hose and clamp a replacement end on the hose. All of these fixes are a good bit cheaper than buying a new hose and the parts are worth keeping around your workshop.

Tools/materials you'll need:

  • Cutters or shears for cleanly cutting sections of hose
  • Hose mender insert (if repairing a break)
  • Hose clamps (if repairing a break or hose end)
  • Replacement washers

Repair A Pothole In Your Asphalt Driveway

Potholes are a common issue with asphalt pavements and driveways. They happen due to moisture in the underlying ground and wear and tear from the weight of vehicles. First, you'll need to remove any loose debris from the pothole, pressure wash the hole and surrounding area, and sweep away any standing water. You can buy asphalt patching compound either in dry form that you mix yourself or as a ready-to-use mixture, which is shown in the video above from FIX IT Home Improvement Channel.

Fill the hole with the compound, spread it out to create an even surface, and tamp it down. The video even recommends tamping by placing plywood over the patch and driving your car over it. After tamping, use some crack repair sealant around the edges of the repair. It should be dry enough to use in a day or two, though it may take a couple of weeks before it's fully dried and ready for parking on.

Tools/materials you'll need:

  • Pressure washer
  • Asphalt pothole patching compound
  • Crack repair sealant
  • Tamping device or plywood

Repair A Crack In Your Concrete Driveway

Repairing a crack in your concrete driveway is an easier fix than you might think. As the video above from Just Az.com Productions suggests, you'll first want to use a trowel, chisel or other small tool to remove debris from the crack. Next, use an air compressor or vacuum to remove the finer debris you can't get with your tool.

After you've removed the debris, you'll use a caulking gun to spread caulking sealant into the crack. If you're repairing a crack on a horizontal portion of the driveway, you can use a self-levelling caulk. If the crack is on a grade, you'll use standard caulk. After applying the caulk to the crack, use a putty knife to spread the caulk evenly into the crack. You may need to apply more caulk and use the putty knife again to make sure you've got everything covered. Allow several hours to dry and you've got a freshly-repaired driveway.

Tools/materials you'll need:

  • Caulking sealant (self-levelling or not, depending on the grade in the driveway you're repairing)
  • Caulking gun
  • Gloves
  • Trowel, chisel or other small tool for removing debris from the crack
  • Air compressor or vacuum for removing fine debris from the crack
  • Putty knife for spreading caulk

Prepare And Repaint Wrought Iron Fences, Railings Or Furniture

Over time, wrought iron fences, railings and furniture can rust and flake, leaving an unattractive finish. Fortunately, unless the wrought iron is rusted all the way through, you can repaint wrought iron yourself without much hassle.

First, you'll need to prepare the surface for painting, which is detailed in the video above from WeekendWorkbench. Use a drill with a wire brush attachment or just a wire brush to remove the rust from the wrought iron. You won't need to remove every last bit of rust, but you do want to get rid of most of the rust and old paint so that you can prime and repaint. After using the wire brush, go over the iron again with sanding sponges and then wipe everything down lint free paper towels to remove as much dust and debris as you can.

When you've got everything prepped, it's time to prime the metal. You'll do this using a brush or roller and a product called red metal primer, which is specially formulated for priming metals like iron. After the primer has fully dried, you can paint the iron with a good wrought iron paint, which is formulated for metal in an outside environment, and your wrought iron will be good for years.

Tools/materials you'll need:

  • Gloves
  • Breathing mask
  • Tarp for collecting debris
  • Sanding sponges
  • Rigid bristle brush
  • Optionally, a power drill with a wire brush attachment
  • Lint-free paper towels
  • Steel wool

Lifehacker's Workshop column covers DIY tips, techniques and projects.


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