Home Alone but Prepared
Many people, male and female, buy homes today with little experience with household repairs. Many grew up in city apartments or condominiums and employees addressed the majority of repair and maintenance issues. For others, parents did not involve them in home repair or maintenance.
Probably, the first thing when buying a home is to make sure one asks where to find electrical box(s), water shut-offs, gas valves etc. Buy a home tool kit. It should include long-nose pliers, slip-joint pliers, straight and Phillips screwdrivers, a claw hammer, tape measure, and adjustable wrench. In addition, purchase "Vise-Grip" locking pliers.
Electrical Repairs If power goes off in a part of your house, particularly to an appliance you may be using, it is most likely that the circuit breaker providing protection for that circuit "tripped" stopping the flow of current. The cause is an overload or fault (short circuit). Resetting the circuit breaker is necessary to restore current. However, before you do this, turn off or unplug all of the devices plugged into the circuit. Turn the breaker back on. If the breaker immediately trips, you may have a serious short in the wiring and probably should call a repairperson. If it trips as you reconnect devices, you will probably discover either you are overloading the circuit or a device has shorted out and must be repaired/replaced.
Unclogging a toilet is a common and simple repair. The key is to have a large black rubber plunger with an insert that extends into the drain. Holding the plunger directly in the drain, apply rapid, repeated plunges. If the toilet drains quickly, re-flush it. If it drains slowly, re-flush but be prepared to repeat the process while flushing since the clog may not have fully cleared.
For a double kitchen sink, you will need two small flat plungers using one to seal off one drain while clearing the other. If the tub drain is backed-up or drains slowly, unscrew and remove the guard to the drain. At this point, it is best to have a small plumber's snake to clear the drain. If not available, use a straightened metal coat hanger, insert with turning, and pull up anything causing the blockage.
If you have electrical heat, all you can do is check its circuit breaker(s) or the thermostat. With oil heat, you can push the red reset button. If the heater goes on fine, if it does not or it shuts off again immediately there is little you can do except make sure there is oil in the tank. This is a repairperson's job.
Lighting of the burner in a gas furnace is managed either electronically or with a pilot flame. In the latter case, when this flame goes out the thermocouple that activates gas flow cools down and gas flow stops. To relight the pilot is not difficult but the steps involved can vary slightly depending on the furnace model.
Failing in this, the following steps should accomplish the task. Pilot valve assemblies have a red reset button and gas valve or the gas valve itself acts as reset button. First, set the knob or gas cock to off to allow residual gas to disperse. The pilot will be near the burner tube assembly within the furnace. Now turn the gas valve to pilot. Next, while pushing the button or depressing the valve use a long match or BBQ lighter to relight. Keep pressing for about 30 seconds. This will maintain gas flow to the pilot long enough to heat the thermocouple and open the main gas valve. If this fails, it likely the thermocouple is at fault necessitating professional repairs.
Finally, purchase a good home maintenance and repair book.