You don’t always need to call in a professional to take care of things around your home. Sometimes it’s quite easy to take care of things yourself. Such is the case with replacing your HVAC filter and looking for and fixing leaks in a toilet. Let’s take a look at how to do these two super easy household tasks so you can save some money. 

Your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) filter needs replacing every one to three months. Replacing the filter regularly ensures the air in your home is clean and flows freely through the unit, which will help maintain its working integrity. 

For the best quality of air, use a high quality air filter that is rated to remove mould, pollen and other microscopic particles that you don’t want floating around in your home. 

The air filter for your HVAC is probably behind the wall or floor air return grate. Sometimes, it can be in or near the actual air handling unit itself. If you are not sure, consult your HVAC system’s owner’s manual. 

To replace your HVAC air filter:

  1. Turn off the heating/cooling unit and wait until it completely stops running.
  2. Remove the cover from the air return.
  3. Remove the old air filter.
  4. Write the current date on the new air filter.
  5. Insert the new air filter in the return. 
  6. Make sure the arrow on the edge of the filter is facing in the direction of airflow. For filters with wall and floor mounted returns, the arrow points in toward the return duct. For filters mounted in the ductwork near the air handler, the arrow should point toward the HVAC unit.
  7. Put the cover back on the air return.
  8. Turn the heating/cooling system back on.

To make things easier on yourself next time, write the size of filter and the date you need to replace it on a sticker and place it near the air return. (Or, write it down in a reminder on your phone.)

Toilets

A toilet that runs constantly can waste thousands of litres of water in a year and play havoc with your utility bills. It makes sense to check your toilets regularly and replace parts that are no longer functioning correctly. 

The good news is that most toilet repairs are easy enough to do yourself.

To check and repair a toilet:

​Adjusting the Water Level in the Tank: 
If your toilet tends to run even when it hasn’t been flushed, that could be an indication that there is too much water in the tank. If your water level is too high, that causes excess water to spill over into the overflow tube, which causes the intake valve to keep running. 

To adjust the water level, turn the adjustment screw, which will likely be located either on top of or at the base of the water intake mechanism. (Check your owner’s manual for placement of the adjustment screw.) 

Set the water limit so the tank stops filling approximately a ¼ inch below the top of the overflow tube. Your intake valve may be marked with a recommended water level indicator. 

Check Flapper: 
To check if the flapper (the rubber “lid” that seals the outflow at the bottom of the tank) needs to be replaced, add a few drops of food colouring to the water in your tank. Wait for an hour or so without flushing and then check to see if any of the coloured water has made its way into the bowl. 

If it has, your flapper valve needs to be replaced. Simply shut off the water to the toilet, flush the water out of the tank and replace the old flapper with a new one according to your owner’s manual. 

Replace Flushing Mechanism:
If you have to replace the entire flushing mechanism, purchase a packaged replacement kit, which will contain all the parts you need along with instructions for installing it. Turn off the water to the toilet and flush the tank empty before proceeding. 

Fix Toilet Floor Leak:
If your toilet is leaking at floor level, try gently tightening the bolts that hold it to the floor. Refrain from tightening them too much or you’ll risk cracking the ceramic bowl or the bolts themselves if they are plastic. 

If the leak persists, you’ll need to remove the toilet from the floor and replace the wax ring around the drain pipe. This is best left up to a professional.

Fix Toilet Tank to Bowl Leak:
Sometimes toilets leak between the tank and bowl. To fix one of these leaks, turn off the water, drain the tank and remove the bolts at the bottom of the tank that attach it to the bowl. Remove the tank itself and replace the rubber gaskets between the tank and bowl along with the bolts and gaskets that hold the tank onto the bowl. 

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