Dare to Repair: A Do-It-Herself Guide to Fixing (Almost) Anything in the Home

Dare to Repair: A Do-It-Herself Guide to Fixing (Almost) Anything in the Home

5.0 1
by Julie Sussman, Stephanie Glakas-Tenet
This is NOT your father's home repair book!

And it's not your husband's, your brother's, your boyfriend's, or the guy's next door. Dare to Repair is a do-it-herself book for every woman who would rather be self-reliant than rely on a super or contractor.

No matter the depth of your pockets or the size of your home, a toilet will get clogged, a


This is NOT your father's home repair book!

And it's not your husband's, your brother's, your boyfriend's, or the guy's next door. Dare to Repair is a do-it-herself book for every woman who would rather be self-reliant than rely on a super or contractor.

No matter the depth of your pockets or the size of your home, a toilet will get clogged, a circuit breaker will trip, and a smoke detector will stop working. It's up to you how you'll deal with them — live in denial, pay the piper, or get real and do it yourself.

Dare to Repair demystifies these home repairs by providing information that other books leave out.

In Dare to Repair, you'll learn how to:

  • Take the plunge — from fixing a leaky faucet to cleaning the gutters.
  • Lighten up — from removing a broken light bulb to installing a dimmer switch.
  • Keep your cool — from maintaining a refrigerator's gasket to changing the rotation of a ceiling fan.
  • Get a handle on it — from replacing a doorknob to repairing a broken window.
  • Play it safe — from planning a fire escape route to installing a smoke detector.

Filled with detailed illustrations, Dare to Repair provides even the most repair-challenged woman with the ability to successfully fix things around the home. Once you start, you won't want to stop.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
Owing to choice or happenstance, many women don't have men around to repair things, and even if they do there is no guarantee that the man isn't a complete bonehead when it comes to fixing things. Sussman and Glakas-Tenet, both wives of CIA employees who were never around to help with household problems, show women how to perform a number of the most common repairs, including unclogging drains and toilets, replacing electrical switches and outlets, leveling appliances, lighting pilot lights, unsticking windows, and installing a door peephole. The authors assume that the reader is a complete newcomer to home repair, so everything is explained in detail (down to what tools to use), but the tone is never condescending. The very readabable text is supplemented by black-and-white drawings. This is a wonderful book that should be purchased by every public library. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

MJF Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Plumbing problems, whether they involve sinks, toilets, or pipes, don't have to drain your wallet, energy, or time. The real difficulty often lies with getting over any fears (unfounded, of course) and motivating yourself to do the repair.

We've made this section simple so you'll want to take the plunge -- we offer easy-to-follow instructions on only the most common plumbing problems. Heck, we even tell you when to throw in the towel and call a plumber.

For all you women who have never seen the inside of your toilet's tank and shudder at the thought of putting your hand into the water, relax. The tank's water is clean and the Tidy Bowl man doesn't bite.

Plumbing problems should never be fixed with a BandAid approach, nor should the repairs be put off, because they'll only get worse. Hell is not going to freeze over girl, so get going and fix whatever needs fixing!

Water Supply

The Main Water Supply Valve: How to Find it and Shut it Off

As the wife of a military officer, Kathy knew that home is where the military sends you, so she was careful never to get too attached to a house. She also knew from experience that as soon as her husband boarded his ship, something in their base housing would break. Not wanting to join the ranks of a long waiting list for repairs, Kathy decided to start learning how to fix things herself. Her first order was locating the house's main water supply valve after the kitchen faucet broke off in her hand. It was rough seas at first, but now it's smooth sailing ahead.

Finding the Valve

Fresh water enters into your home through the main watersupply line. The valve controlling the water flow through the line is typically found in the basement or utility room near the water meter, water heater, or on the front wall closest to the street. In older apartment buildings, the main water supply valve is located in the basement. However, in some new apartment buildings, main water supply valves are located on each floor in the utility room.

When you locate the main water supply valve, place an I.D. tag on it. If you want to make sure you've marked the correct valve, turn on a sink faucet and then shut off the main water supply valve. If the water from the sink stops, then you've found the right valve.

Determining the Valve Type

The two most common main water supply valves are gate and ball. The gate valve has a wheel-shaped knob that can difficult to turn if it has been unused for a long time, or if it's dirty. A ball valve has a lever handle, which requires only a quarter turn to shut it off. Most new homes have the ball valve.

Shutting Off the Valve

If you have a gate valve, turn it clockwise. If it's stuck, apply a lubricating spray, and use the adjustable wrench to turn it. For a ball valve, move the lever a quarter turn.

Restoring Hot Water to a Water Heater

Nancy came close once to hitting the high notes like Aretha, and it wasn't because she was happy. On a morning of a big meeting at work, she was in the shower when the hot water ran out, leaving her hair full of shampoo and only one leg shaved. Nancy raced to her gym not to exercise but to finish her shower!

Sound familiar? If you're not a member of the Polar Bear Club who happens to like icy cold water, a frigid shower can be unbearable. Chill out woman, the solution is easy.

Determining the Cause

The first thing you need to do is to find out why you're out of hot water. Possibly the shortage is due to heavy water usage during a brief time, an insufficient sized water tank, a leaking tank, or the water heater is not receiving power either because of a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker or its pilot light was extinguished (gas water heater).

Heavy Water Usage
If there are other people living in your home, stagger their showers. If you live alone and you've depleted the hot water while singing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T," you need to wait about 20 minutes for the tank to heat up the water again.

Insufficient Sized Water Heater
Check the label on the water heater for the number of gallons it holds. Estimate 10 to 15 gallons per person per day for the right size water heater.

Leaking Tank
If the water heater is leaking, replace it immediately!

Lack of Power to a Water Heater
Before you restore power to a water heater, you need to determine which kind you have.

Every water heater will have at least one big sticker on it telling you the size of the tank and whether it's gas or electric. If for some reason you don't see any stickers, look on the water heater for a small metal label with serial numbers. The set of numbers starts with either an "E" for electric or a "G" for gas. And if you don't see the stickers or the metal label, then sister, we don't know what you're looking at!

Restoring Power to a Water Heater

If It's Electric
Check to see if your electricity is working. Go to the main service panel and look for a circuit breaker that has tripped or a fuse that has blown. If the problem is not with the fuse or circuit breaker call a certified plumber, because the trouble lies within the water heater.

If It's Gas
There are two types of gas water heaters: one with a standing pilot and one with an electronic ignition. A standing pilot, which when operating correctly produces a blue flame, ignites the burner located at the base of the water heater. When a standing pilot goes out, it has to be manually lit.

Dare to Repair. Copyright � by Julie Sussman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet, authors of the national bestseller Dare to Repair and Dare to Repair Your Car, have been featured on the New York Times, Washington Post, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon bestseller lists. They have appeared on Good Morning America, Today, The Early Show, and FOX & Friends, and have hosted their own PBS special. As spokeswomen for the Lowe's and Habitat for Humanity Women Build program partnership, the authors have committed themselves to helping address the crisis of substandard housing by engaging women in the construction and maintenance of Habitat homes. In addition, they have partnered with the U.S. military and Lowe's to provide Dare to Repair clinics, teaching home repair and car care to military spouses managing the home front.

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Dare to Repair 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too good for anyone NOT to have. Someone gave me this book as a Christmas gift about 7 years ago. At first I thought, what? I have to say this has been the best book. I have gotten tips about unclogging sinks and toilets without having to waste money on a plumber. I have changed a whole toilet, washers on a dripping sink, and so much more! I am a female and I am pretty handy but the book breaks down what tools you need and easy to follow instructions. I give this to all my female friends as gifts when they have a home. Buy it because it is worth it!