YouTube and DIY – The Perfect Combination!

DIY Wrench

One of the often under-appreciated expenses in the typical household budget is repair work. It’s not so much that repairs are actually that expensive, but that they become so when you have to pay someone else to do them for you. One of the very best ways to save money and cut your budget is to learn to do at least some repairs on your own.

This doesn’t mean that you should start doing all the repairs needed in your life, but that you can start taking on some of the simpler ones, then eventually get to some of the biggies when you feel ready to do so.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done repairs in your life – the Internet has made repair work easier than ever. And the best place to start is YouTube. That will not only get you the information you need, but you’ll get a visual demonstration of how it works. Next to doing it yourself, watching someone else do a repair job is the best way to learn.

Let’s look at some simple repairs that you can do to get started – and a short YouTube video that can help you in each case.

Simple Plumbing Job: Repairing a Leaky Faucet

This video wraps up the whole job neatly in under four minutes. What I like about it is that it starts by giving you a quick Plumbing 101 lesson: Turn off the water supply and plug the drain so you don’t lose any parts that might fall down it. From there it takes a repair job that is a mystery to so many and turns it into a walk in the park.

Electrical Work: Replacing an Electrical Socket

This is a short and very simple video on how to replace an electrical socket. The video appears to be from Ireland, which explains why some of the terminology is different (I suspect that when she says “earth,” she is probably referring to what we call the ground wire in the US). However she is extremely methodical, specifically listing the tools needed, and adding constant safety reminders. That’s especially important whenever you’re doing any kind of electrical work.

Basic Maintenance: Changing a Doorknob

I recently lived in a house where nearly every doorknob had to be replaced. The house turned 20 while we were living there, so I guess that’s about the time all the doorknobs decided to zap out – almost simultaneously. Changing out the first doorknob was a little bit complicated, but after that I was able to do them in five minutes each. It’s really not that complicated, but a lot of people will pay good money to have an “expert” do what is really a very simple task.

This video covers the job in two and a half minutes. In simple language, she lays out what you need, the steps you need to take, and options that you have. Once you watch this video – and change your first doorknob – you’ll never even think about paying someone else to do it ever again.

Drywall Repair: Fixing a Hole in the Wall

A real estate investor I knew many years ago took me on a tour of some of his properties. He would buy old, rundown houses that needed work, repair them, and then rent them out at a substantial monthly profit. If you can believe it, holes in the wall were his favorite repair job. Why? Because he knew that 50 people had looked at that house and decided not to buy because it needed “too much work.”

After that, he showed me how he could repair a hole in a wall in about 10 minutes. I got what he meant. You can do it too, and it’s incredibly easy.

This video tells you what supplies you’ll need then takes you through the repair process step by step, all the way to putting a professional looking finish on the wall. It also gives little tips on how to make the job go faster. By the time the video is done, you can’t even see where the hole was. Watch this video and tell me that you can’t fix a hole in the wall – it’s easier than you think!

You can find an instructional video on YouTube for just about any repair job you can imagine. All you need is a video and the right equipment and you can perform much of the repair work you need. Start out by doing the very simplest repair jobs, and watch two or three how-to videos before doing each job. There can be different ways to do the same job, but if you watch several videos it will help you get a better feel for what you can and can’t do.

Any repair job you can do yourself, is one less task you need to pay someone else to do. That will not only start saving you some real money, but it will also give you the confidence that you need to take greater control of more areas of your life. You won’t have to call a repairman every time something breaks – you’ll know what to do. Or, you’ll turn on YouTube and find out.

Have you ever used YouTube videos to help you with a repair project? Leave a comment!

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  1. Jake Erickson

    I love both Youtube and Google when it comes to DIY projects. We actually got a new kitchen last summer and I installed the new sink myself. I knew nothing about plumbing before I started, but after googling and youtubing (and going to Home Depot) I felt like an expert. It still took 5 times longer than a professional, but I also got it done for $300 cheaper than paying someone to do it.

    • Kevin M

      Hi Jake–I find that there’s little that I do these days when it comes to repairs without consulting Youtube. If nothing else you may learn a new way to do something, or you pick up a tip that makes the job doable.

    • Joolie

      Good point – even if you can’t find it on YouTube, chances are you can find a step-by-step how-to on Google. I was able to repair our dishwasher and my GPS touch-screen this way. I googled all the possible causes of the problem, narrowed it down, found a tutorial, ordered the part and made the repair. Total cost for the dishwasher was about $40, for the GPS about $15.
      Best tip? photograph the part in place before removing, especially if you’re going to remove it and then order the part.

    • Kevin M

      Hi Joolie–“photograph the part in place before removing, especially if you’re going to remove it and then order the part.”–THAT is totally brilliant. Agreed, it’s one of the best tips ever.

  2. Kathleen K

    Anyone can post a YouTube video. Unfortunately, a novice DIY-er may not recognize good advice vs bad. My suggestions:
    1. Pick a reliable source. Better yet, watch several and note differences.
    2. NEVER work alone when doing plumbing, electrical or using power tools. Always have a second adult (or older kid) who knows what to do if something goes wrong.
    3. Use common sense and the right safety equipment. Any savings you made by DIY will immediately be cancelled by an ER trip.

    No, I’m not a professional trying to protect my income…I’m a stay-at-home mom who has learned these skills to stretch limited income to the furthest extent. As a result, I’ve learned electrical, plumbing, tiling, carpentry, insulation, cabinetry, landscaping, and more that I can’t remember right now. My own personal favorite resources are This Old House and Ask This Old House and Family Handyman.

    • Kevin M

      Hi Kathleen–That’s why toward the end of the post I suggested viewing 2-3 videos before starting a job. It will help you to see patterns that will determine if a procedure is correct or not. The other benefit is that you may learn better from the teaching style of one instructor over another.

      And you’re correct about safety. Never take on a job that’s over your head. We’re mainly looking for simple repairs here, not re-wiring the house.

  3. Joolie

    I view YouTube videos to learn how to change my own oil on each motorcycle I have owned. And I like to review it each spring before I do it for the first time in months. As the owner of four very different bikes in last 10 years, with more than 100,000 combined miles, it has definitely saved me money by not having to go to a mechanic (easily $50 every 3000 miles). I’m careful to record the mileage each time so I can produce complete documentation when I’m ready to sell the bike to its new owner.
    Car oil changes, on the other hand, are relatively inexpensive; I’ve decided my time is worth the money in that case!

    • Kevin M

      Hi Joolie–that last point is excellent. You do have to balance out the time you will invest in a DIY project vs. the out of pocket cost of having someone else do the job. If it’s just $30-$40 to have a shop change the oil you’re better off going that route. If you do the job yourself you’ll spend close to that on the replacement oil alone.

  4. YouTube is great for DIY projects. I used it to figure out how to fix our washer, drain/refill our hot water heater, and much more! It’s amazing how instructive the videos are, plus they’re free! It can’t get much better than that…

    • Kevin M

      Hi Kirby–You can take it as far as you like. You only need to do the repair jobs you’re comfortable with, but even learning a few gives you options you didn’t have before.

  5. Michael Bednar

    I have used youtube to fix my washer, saving an expensive repair bill. The video stepped me through how to clean out the filter trap on a front load washer. I also watched a youtube video on how to properly take slack out of a motorcycle chain, again saving an expensive trip to the dealer. My next project is to fix my dryer. I have already found several good videos on how to trouble shoot it. Even though I own and read home and motorcycle repair manuals, I always check youtube to see if there is a helpful video before tackling an unfamiliar repair. A picture is definitely worth a thousand words.

    • Kevin M

      Hi Michael–I have repair books to but I don’t use them. I’m a visual learner–which I suspect most people are–and that’s where a video works wonders. Seeing a job being done is much better than reading about how to do it in a book or manual. I think this is especially true if you’re not a repair person by nature.

  6. donna w

    Great article! Every year I had to call the fireplace repair man to look at our electrical fireplace that would not start. Every year he would charge around $250 and the fireplace would work fine for about two months. This year I googled “electrical fireplace won’t start” and I found that 90% of the time it is the pilot light. I found a You Tube video on how to light the pilot light and within 5 minutes had a toasty fire roaring! And there was no bill at the end.

    • Kevin M

      Hi Donna–This is why I think we need to give DIY repairs a try, especially since we have YouTube. In your case, you were being charged $250 for what is a simple maintenance issue that cost nothing to fix.

      I’ve heard that 50% of the time that an appliance won’t work is because it’s unplugged. But you have to wonder how many people get caught paying someone to “fix” the problem.