Drip, drip, drip as you lay awake at night.


"Honey, when are we gonna fix that tap?"


Translation: When are you going to learn how to replace a washer. Or the dreaded, "Honey, the toilet won't flush."


These are among the simplest plumbing jobs you can ever learn. And yet what do most of you do? You bring in a plumber, at maybe a $100 an hour. Plus materials. Ouch!


Although I don't have the space for a detailed plumbing how-to, let me reassure you. You can stop that dripping tap in less than an hour. New taps? A few hours.

Fixing a washer is a simple matter of (1) shutting off the water supply (2) opening up the tap to drain the water out of the system (3) using a flathead screwdriver to pry off the decorative cap (4) removing the screw underneath (5) removing the handle and the brass nut on the top of the "stem" (6) taking the stem to your local hardware store and (8) having them sell you a new black rubber washer (or sometimes a pack of different sizes).

Back it all goes, in reverse order, and you have now become the man (or the woman) of the house.
If there are other parts of the stem that need replacing, like the o-rings (which, if worn out, can make the handle itself leak), they will sell you those, too. These minor procedures are saving you a $100 an hour.
And they will earn you some significant respect (hopefully!) from your opposite number. If the whole stem needs replacing, you can buy that, too. Although you may have to order it.

If it's new taps you need, or a new toilet or showerhead, why not sign up for the "Home Plumbing Essentials" course we offer at our BIY Workshops (www.biyworkshops.com). We will show you the professional way to do it all.

No more drip, drip, drip.

Jim Caruk, HGTV Host, has been a renovation contractor for more than 30 years. He is the founder of Build It Yourself Learning Centers which teaches homeowners how to complete their own repairs and renovations (www.biyworkshops.com).