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6 Things You Should Know How To Do If You’re Living Alone

Living alone is an entirely different experience than living with your parents, a roommate, or a significant other. When you live alone you quite literally have to handle everything on your own, and therefore there are certain things you need to know how to do by yourself. Sure, you could call your parents, a friend, or your S.O. to help you out — but you can’t do that every single time something goes wrong.

If you’re going to be independent enough to be living alone, then you need to be independent enough to tend to some things on your own. Unless it’s a major repair, like a broken washing machine or sparking AC unit, you shouldn’t need help.

1. Change a Lightbulb

Everyone should be able to purchase light bulbs and swap them out when they kaput, so the steps for unscrewing and screwing the bulb back in are pretty simple. However, you might run into trouble when it comes to reaching them. So be prepared for all eventualities by having a sturdy chair or step ladder handy so you can reach even the highest of lights.

2. Switch Out a Shower Head

Changing shower heads is actually super simple. All it takes is a new one, some pliers or a wrench, and the threading tape that should be provided in the package with your new showerhead. Sometimes showerheads end up grimy or you may want a simple upgrade (hello, six spray settings!). No matter the reason, you should know how to do this on your own. There will be directions included in the packaging, but in general, you use the pliers/wrench to remove the old shower head, remove the old threading tape, wrap new threading tape around the thread in the pipe, and screw the new shower head on, tightening it with the pliers/wrench when you can’t twist it on your own anymore.

Test the new shower head’s tightness by turning on the water. If there’s any water leakage, you’ll need to take the head off and redo it to get a better seal.

3. Mow the Lawn

Unless you’re living alone in an apartment or have the funds to pay for someone to mow it for you, you need to know how to mow the lawn on your own. It’s a messy, sweaty job, but it’s kind of unavoidable. It’s actually pretty simple, though. You just need to know how to turn on your lawnmower (which will be dependent on the type of lawnmower you own, but it’s not any harder than turning on a car), and push it across the grass. If you’re lucky enough to have a riding lawnmower, then it’s even easier. Just hit the gas and steer.

4. Decode the Laundry Tag on Clothes

The laundry tag inside your clothes is key to making sure those expensive threads last for a long time. Unfortunately, there are so many symbols that most people don’t understand what the tag is even saying. Here’s a quick and easy infographic to help you out.

5. Clean Your Coffee Maker

For some reason, most people don’t think to clean their coffee maker, and that’s a huge mistake. By not cleaning it, you open yourself up to all kinds of gross mold and mildew, which in turn can make you sick. So you have to clean it at least once a month, but I’d aim for once a week.

To clean it, fill the water chamber with equal parts water and white vinegar, place a filter in the maker, and turn it on until there’s half of the mixture left in the chamber. Let that sit for 30 minutes, and then turn it back on to finish brewing. When that’s done, empty the coffee pot, and run it again with plain water and a clean filter.

And just like that you’ve killed the gunk and germs hiding inside your coffee maker and can sip your caffeine in peace.

6. Flip the Breaker Box

If your power ever ends up off due to weather or whatever reason, you need to know how to get it back on if you can. Unless the damage is due to some power lines being down (in which case you’re S.O.L.), then you can usually get your power back by flipping the breaker.

Step one is to figure out where your breaker box is. Usually, it’s somewhere like in the laundry room or a closet. Then all you have to do is go check the breaker, figure out which switch is off and flip it back to the “On” position. This also works if there’s just one room or item (like the AC) that stops working for absolutely no reason.

Terra is an Arkansas-based writer who spends her free time obsessing over her planner, debating between working out or eating, and singing to her dog, Gatsby, even though he hates it. She also writes for Earn, Spend, Live blogs here.

Image via Unsplash

  • Sandrine

    The first thing that came to mind when I read the title of the article was “change a lightbulb”. It’s the story of me moving 700km away from my parents at age 18. Having a chair or a stool to climb on is definitely good advice, but I would add to switch off the light before changing the bulb. It doesn’t always come to mind since it’s dark after the previous bulb dies, but the first time I changed a bulb I didn’t turn off the switch and when I put the new bulb on, the bright light came right in my fingers and I was so surprised I dropped the bulb which wasn’t entirely screwed on yet… picking a thousand pieces of very thin glass in the dark (since the new bulb was now broken) wasn’t fun at all…

    • jdub

      Also important to add: try to have a stool or a ladder or a chair of some sort accessible.

      See: myself in my old apartment that was too small for a dining set and I didn’t own a step-stool, so when I wanted to change a lightbulb I had to make a little pile out of every single book I owned.

    • Ugg I did this exact same thing one with a CFL bulb once and was terrified of the small amounts of mercury in the shards poisoning me or something.

  • Sarah Mo

    How to deal with mice! Nothing forcing you into the adulting big league like opening a drawer and finding a mouse. Realizing that *you* are the adult who has to deal with this problem was an awakening.

    • Julia Schnell

      Yes! Learned this the hard way living in an old run-down duplex in grad school. The worst: having a gas burner not turn on and realizing it was because a mouse had died in side and was blocking the gas jet. Ew ew ew ew ew!

    • Lauren

      I found a dead mouse in my apartment after living alone for two weeks, and I handled it — by which I mean, I started crying and called my neighbor to come take it away. But I feel like adulting sometimes means knowing when to ask for help. 🙂

  • Geeka

    I would like to add “light the pilot light” on your furnace or stove.

  • Maddog

    Mon Dieu!!! Talk about a low bar!

    1. Change a Lightbulb

    2. Switch Out a Shower Head

    3. Mow the Lawn

    4. Decode the Laundry Tag on Clothes

    5. Clean Your Coffee Maker

    6. Flip the Breaker Box

    What about breathe, and eat, and sleep, and . . . This is apparently a real list put forward because, apparently, there are people who must not be able to do these things. Holy Mackerel. I was thinking more along the lines of change a light fixture, after shutting off the breaker level of how-to-do-it stuff, not breathe level!

    This is parental malpractice if young people are not taught this level of simple life how-to before they are perhaps 16, let alone out on their own. By the time the child leaves the home he/she should be able to:

    1. Change a light fixture.

    2. Trouble shoot simple electrical problems like a lamp which will not work after the bulb has been replaced, or a switch which does not work, and then repair or replace.

    3. Sharpen the mower blades, change the mower oil, and keep the mower tuned up, and in good running condition.

    4. Clean the trap in the dishwasher, the trap in the cloths washer, and know how to interpret any error codes on modern appliances.

    5. Change a bad breaker in the breaker box.

    6. Know when your auto need maintenance, and what is appropriate, both in costs, and what work is reasonable.

    7. How to use YouTube to find answers to a wide variety of systems problems, and how to use tools sufficiently to undertake the simpler fixes.

    Yes, all of this is a work in process, and experience is the killer app, but young people out on their own should be able to understand reality from scam, and take care of first level issues and problems without the need to resort to costly “experts,” for simple R&R.

    Mark Sherman

  • Em

    Yes to the mice and lighting a pilot light. Also- how to turn off water (super important when you apartment starts to flood due to a back up in a pipe), and how to fix common toilet problems (running toilet, not refilling water, etc).