The importance of being a handyman

Last Updated : 24 December 2015, 18:41 IST

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Slowly but surely, electricians, masons, painters, plumbers and computer technicians are becoming more expensive and harder to find. For instance, a washer in a tap has to be replaced. You call a plumber who is always busy and often elusive.

Finally, as luck would have it, he comes home. The repair takes 15 minutes but you had to wait for 15 days to get that much-in-demand plumber. You are also not too happy paying him Rs 150 for that simple job, but he claims that’s the standard rate and makes you feel like you should be obliged to him for doing the job. Such simple repair and maintenance works crop up in a home once in a way and it takes time, energy and money to get the work done. You are often at the mercy of repairmen, which can be rather frustrating.

Abroad, many of the homeowners are also handymen. They equip themselves with the tricks and trades of a few simple repair and maintenance works around the house. This works well, given that it’s difficult to find freelance repairmen to get the job done. No doubt, there are agencies that deal with such repair jobs, but you have to be willing to wait for a while and pay a hefty sum for the service.

In India, too, there are a few agencies that undertake various types of repair and maintenance jobs. However, to contact an agency to fix a leaky tap may be too much of an effort! As a result, the time has come, for any householder, to learn to do minor repairs on their own. Even though some experience and skills are needed, with a little motivation, these can be achieved very easily.

Handy tools

To begin with, one needs to purchase a tool kit that has various types of screwdrivers, nose pliers, spanners of assorted sizes, an adjustable spanner, a hammer, and hacksaw, among others. These might be used once in a blue moon, but it could come in handy when the need arises rather than having to wait for someone else to do the repair. A few accessories and spares such as tap-washers, tapes (including insulation tapes), threads, spare wires, nails, screws, bolts and nuts of assorted sizes, plugs and sockets, extension board, a small electrical or manual drill, paint brushes, white cement, a few mason’s tools, and a flashlight should be kept carefully in a tool box that is clearly marked and kept in an accessible place known to everyone at home.

Items, after use, should be returned to the tool kit and consumable materials like tapes and washers should be replenished quickly. Ensure that you keep the tool kit childproof to prevent children from doing any mischief with it.

Comic books show how a handyman at home could land himself in trouble by undertaking repairs for which he is not qualified. This is a classic case of ‘cure being worse than the disease.’ A word of caution is needed to take up even small jobs unless the person who is doing the repair has some elementary knowledge of what he is up to. Otherwise, the repair bill would be much more than what was expected, if left as such!

Electrical equipment should be handled with care and safely to prevent electrical shocks. For instance, there is high voltage present inside equipment such as the TV and microwave, among others. No attempt to repair such appliances should be ventured, as it could prove dangerous as well as costly. If an electrical socket has to be changed, the main switch needs to be switched off. Such elementary precautions could prove useful.

‘Do it yourself’ self-help books should be read carefully, where plausible, to make the repair and maintenance as professional as possible. For instance, if a small area needs to be painted or retouched, keep in mind how the surface should be prepared, what type of paint should be used and which type of paint brush should be used. Study it carefully and seek professional advice from a paint shop or a painter, if need be, before undertaking such painting work. Even young boys and girls should learn how to use simple gadgets, without compromising on safety.

Getting trained

Training institutes should also start conducting classes and train those who are interested in doing minor repair and maintenance work at home themselves. For instance, horticulture training is given to those who are interested in gardening and raising lawns, plants and vegetables at home. Such training would help the householders immensely. There would be a sense of satisfaction while doing minor repair and maintenance work, which would enhance one’s competence too over a period of time. Experience would provide the much-needed confidence in doing minor repairs around the house.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that, sometimes, it’s cheaper to buy a new equipment rather than getting an old one repaired or serviced time and again. Old is not always gold. Modern technology equipments are far more energy efficient and give a trouble-free performance with more added features. Old equipments can often be sold for a small monetary compensation.

We would say, there’s no time better than now to begin your tryst with repairing things yourself at home.

Published 24 December 2015, 15:23 IST

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