Whether you're single, married, or have roommates, there is one type of home repair that every woman must know how to do, no matter where you live. Actually, there are two ... but one leads to the other.
While I believe that ideally women should know how to do many home fix-its -- how to change locks, how to patch drywall, how to replace a light or switch number -- what you have to know is the thing that can cause serious damage to your home if you don’t.
What all women have to know is basic plumbing. We’ll get to that in a second.
Before you can do anything, you have to know where your circuit breaker or fuse box is. You must be able to cut electricity to one room or the entire house if necessary. You also need to know where the water main is -- both in your house and outside. Also, how to turn off the water in individual locations.
Just knowing these few things will at least enable you to stop a problem, like a rogue gushing pipe; otherwise, all you can do is try to mop up water while you wait for the plumber (who will immediately ask you where the water main is).
As for that repair?
Basic plumbing. Fixing a leaky or broken pipe tops the list.
But you should also be able to fix a leaky faucet, install a new faucet, change out valves in both a sink and toilet. Being able to stop a running toilet is essential, as is stopping an overflow (see water turn off). Bonus points if you learn to replace a float assembly and flapper valve.
The last bit of plumbing knowledge you need is how to unclog a drain or toilet. Sometimes a plunger or chemicals do the trick, but you must know how to use a snake. Chemicals can destroy your pipes and don’t always work. A snake, on the other hand, won’t hurt your pipes and will almost always work. They come in lots of different sizes, so you can have one for the bathtub and one for the sink.
You don't have to take expensive classes to learn how to do these repairs -- one good book will do the trick. My beginner's Bible is called Dare to Repair: A Do-It-Herself Guide to Fixing (Almost) Anything in the Home. This book got me through a pipe replacement, faucet repair and replacement, and countless other repairs. (FYI, the same folks also have a book dedicated to plumbing.)
If you learn some basic plumbing skills, you will be well-equipped to fix almost every problem that springs up, or at least prevent your basement from flooding until a professional can get there.
Image via Maria Chily/Flickr