Homes should come with a warning label announcing “home maintenance required.” Like it or not, houses need upkeep, and unless you’re fine shelling out tons of money to the plumbers and contractors you’ll have on speed dial, it pays to master a few home maintenance skills yourself.

Here are the basic, rock-bottom tasks every homeowner should master.

1. Hanging pictures

You’ve got to hang things on bare walls to make a house a home. And even though installing picture hooks or fanning out a kimono on a wall is not rocket science, getting things to hang straight and keeping them aloft can be tricky.

These days you can easily turn your smartphone into a level to determine if a frame is crooked. You can also buy a stud finder, or tap on the wall until you hear a deeper thud, to locate wood studs that will grab your picture hooks or nails more securely than drywall.

2. Cleaning gutters

Cleaning gutters is a dirty, gunky job. It’s no wonder a recent survey found that 24% of homeowners polled “never” clean their gutters, yet these homeowners may be in for an unpleasant surprise soon enough.

When gutters and downspouts aren’t cleared of leaves and debris, water can get trapped and end up seeping into your house, costing you thousands of dollars to repair. So get up there and start clearing them!

3. Resetting a circuit breaker

Your house is fitted with circuit breakers, which supply power to appliances and lighting in every room. When a circuit becomes overloaded, the designated breaker “trips,” shutting off juice to that area.

When this happens, you’ll need to reset the breaker: Just open the panel cover and look for the breaker that’s sitting in the “off” position; then push it to “on.” If you can’t find the errant breaker, you’ll have to turn each breaker off, then on. A good skill to have, if you enjoy light.


4. Unclogging drains

The day your sink, shower, or bath stops draining is a major hassle that must be dealt with pronto—but if you’re reluctant to hire a plumber, it’s entirely possible to clear drains yourself. A chemical drain cleaner can often do the trick. There are also preventive measures you can take: If you fish out stray hair every couple of weeks, you’ll prevent plugs from forming at all.


5. Cutting the water supply

If a pipe bursts or you’re repairing plumbing, you’ll have to shut off the water supply to the house, so it’s a good idea to locate the main water valve as soon as you move in. The shut-off valve mostly likely is located where the water enters the house.

Know how to turn off the water to the house or to specific locations in the house.

6. Changing filters

HVAC systems use filters to trap dust and pollen and prevent the furnace or AC compressor from spreading debris throughout the house. Each system has a different filtration system, but most require cleaning or replacing filters monthly or quarterly, an easy task that will keep your system running smoothly and cut energy bills. The only tough part is remembering it’s time to clean the filters. Luckily, there are several smartphone apps on the market that can remind you of periodic maintenance tasks.


7. Caulking

Caulking, which prevents water from seeping between walls and your tub or tile, is an easy maintenance task to do.