Five Fixes to Keep You Sane When You’re Working from Home
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Five Fixes to Keep You Sane When You’re Working from Home

Working from home nearly doubles the amount of time most of us are inside our domiciles. This can make things that were easy to ignore an unavoidable irritation. The good news: fixing these irks and quirks will take less time, total, than you’d spend worrying about them—like most things.

Having worked from home and remotely for more than a decade, I offer this list of repairs that seem like A Whole Thing to start, but are actually a great relief. You can fix these things yourself, without calling anyone to your home, and most of the tools or parts are either in your house already, or can be had either online or with a very brief store visit or pick-up.

A Squeaky Chair that Reports Your Every Movement

Even if you don’t have anyone working at home with you, a squeaky chair will quickly break your brain. It’s so quiet in your home, and your chair will squeak every time you move. You never realized how much background noise there was in an office until you received an audible cue every time your weight shifted.

Office-style chairs and gaming chairs are varied in design, but have some common squeak points. Most guides to fixing them have high-level generalities: tighten all the screws and bolts that seem loose, then oil/grease everything that moves or twists. That’s good advice! But two helpful folks show you a more detailed fix-up of their chairs:

Todd Harrison’s blog post and video involve the use of an oil can, bearing grease, and fine-grit sandpaper (though you may not need all these things).

Steve, the Tired Dad Tech on YouTube, uses white lithium grease on the bearings and other parts of his office chair to keep it quiet.

Creaking Door Hinges: A Nice, Easy Victory

Working from home sometimes means working late, working early, or mid-day naps to make up for all those odd hours. Doors with horror-movie sounds ruin this, and make every trip through the house a trial. The fix is something you can tackle during a coffee break, though.

You need a hammer, a flat-tip screwdriver, some kind of lubricant (mineral oil, lithium grease, something not made for food), and a brush. You tap the pin out of the door hinge that’s squeaking, soak it in the lubricant, paint the hinge with the same grease, then put the pin back in and work it a bit. That’s it, that’s the fix.

The Slowly Maddening Drip of a Toilet or Sink

I put off plumbing repairs until the problem is either notably worse or unbearable (or in-laws are coming to stay). I always pay for it. Not in plumbing bills, but in distraction and mood dampening. If your brain is like mine, it can escalate “There is something wrong with the bathroom faucet” into “There is something wrong with me” with remarkable ease.

We’ve tackled five toilet problems you can handle yourself before. Your running toilet might just need a no-tool-needed pull chain adjustment or handle loosening. It could call for a flapper or fill valve replacement, parts that are readily available at hardware stores or online (though measure your old flapper or valve to make sure you get the right length).

Our guide to fixing a leaky faucet similarly involves only a hand wrench and cheap replacement parts (a new cartridge or new O-rings. Besides the satisfaction of the fix itself, you’ll learn, like I did, how your faucet can keep you from burning your hands.

Telltale Wooden Floors

This is more of a weekend or after-hours fix, only for homeowners, and a bit more involved—there is a drill. But it’s only $10-$30 to fix the sounds you will hear many, many times per day, especially when you’re procrastinating work by running around the house.

Extremely reassuring presence Tom Silva explains how to fix hardwood floor squeaks in a YouTube video. If you can get under the squeaky floor or stair in a crawlspace or basement, it might be even easier, just hammering in some glue-covered shims. If you’ve got carpeted floors, there’s a video for that, too.

Ice Machine Failures (Not Cool)

Have you ever visited someone’s house, went to get some ice for a drink, and the owner said, “Don’t worry, it works exactly like it should, on every setting”? Me neither, friend. Ice machines are perfect for working from home—chilled drinks, even if you forgot to refrigerate them!—but the dream is so often dashed by a confusing malfunction, somewhere deep inside your fridge.

But not always. iFixit Answers hero, Mayer, has helped a few folks work through their sudden loss of ice. Sometimes the issue is a temperature setting (freezers need to be below 10 Fahrenheit to work properly), an inlet valve, pressure from your water supply, a clogged filter, or other issues. If it’s just the motor itself, you may have to get a replacement unit (or just revert back to ice cube trays), but the fix can be really simple sometimes.

These are just five easy-ish fixes to hit that we think will make a big difference for everyday working from home. What small-but-big fixes are you making around your home? What would you like to see covered in a follow-up post? Let’s workshop in the comments.

Top image by ʎɔ./Flickr