Fixer-upper: How much do you know about home renovation?

By: Maria Trimarchi
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

You flip the light switch, but nothing happens. And hey, you've always wished that was a dimmer switch. On a new ceiling fixture. Next to a two-room addition. Are you headed for disaster or domestic bliss? Measure your knowledge on this quiz and see if your score makes the cut.

When you remove an outlet plate, what are the three wires?

These are the outlet's hot, neutral and ground wires.

If you are renovating an older home, your first step may be to check for this hazardous material once commonly used for insulation and fireproofing:

Asbestos is naturally occurring and has been used for thousands of years. It's resistant to fire and is great at absorbing sound, but has been discovered to cause serious illness, such as mesothelioma.

It's a great time to check for this when replacing the siding on a home:

Water damage can result from flooding, leaky or broken pipes, poorly sealed windows, and a variety of other causes. It can lead to mold growth or dry rot, which can affect the structural integrity of the home. It is recommended that repairs are made as soon as water damage is discovered so as to prevent the problem from spreading.

What could happen if you don't use the right tool for the job?

Using the wrong tool for the job can cause a lot of complications, from lost time and money to personal injury.

What should you have on site for personal safety?

Keep goggles, ear protection, gloves and boots -- and don't forget the first-aid kit -- on hand for your safety on projects of all sizes.

Complete the following advice: measure ____, cut ____.

There's a Russian proverb that says, measure seven times, cut once. But the expression we're looking for is from an English proverb: measure twice, cut once.

What's causing water to leak onto your bathroom floor when you flush?

A constant leak could mean there's a crack in the toilet base. But if it's during or after you flush, it's time to replace the wax ring.

Where is flat paint best used?

Flat paint is good for ceilings and also walls in low-trafficked areas.

What should you check and clean if your sink has a stubborn clog?

Sink's clogged up? Place a bucket underneath, loosen the nuts and move it up and down until the blockage clears.

How would you fix a low water level in the toilet bowl?

Fix a low water level in the toilet bowl by adjusting the float.

What should you ask potential contractors for before your renovation job?

It's smart to ask potential contractors about their business practices, including all of these questions.

You want to paint behind the toilet, but the tank is too close to the wall. There are two steps to drain a toilet tank so you can remove it. First, turn off the cut-off valve. And second?

To empty the toilet tank so you can remove it, first turn off the cut-off valve. Flush the toilet and hold the handle until the water in the tank has emptied (there's always a little left to sponge up).

Oh, no! Your lead paint test comes back showing there is lead paint in your home. What do you do next?

Because this is toxic material, you'll need to hire a knowledgeable professional to do this job.

How do you calculate the number of ceramic tiles you'll need for your kitchen remodel project?

To figure out the number of tiles you need, calculate the total square footage of the area that needs to be covered and divide that number by the size of one of your tiles.

You've caulked your windows and weatherstripped your doors, but you still feel a draft. What's an easy way to find where it's coming from?

Use a lit candle and watch if the flame moves in front of any doors or windows.

What should be first on your To Do list before you crack open the paint for the exterior of your home?

You need to clean before you can paint, not only to remove loose or peeling paint but also to remove dirt and the everyday gunk that builds up over time.

Drip. Drip. Drip. What part of your faucet needs to be fixed?

Depending on the type of faucet you have, you'll need to replace one of these things to stop the drip.

What could cause a toilet to stop flushing all the way?

A faulty flapper, too much slack in the lift chain or a low water level in the toilet tank can all cause a toilet not to flush all the way.

From the 1950s to 1978 (when it became illegal), lead made indoor paints more durable -- but it is also a highly-toxic metal. How do you find out if your house has lead paint?

If your home is older or newer than 1950 to 1978, you don't have to worry. But if it was built during those decades, you have two options: have an inspector come and test it, or test it yourself (although you should never remove it yourself).

In what type of pattern should you apply joint compound to cover the patch in the wall?

With a drywall knife, use a crisscross pattern and blend the edges with the wall.

Which should you not move if you can avoid it during a project?

If you can avoid it, not moving the sink or toilet can keep your plumbing costs down.

You're moving furniture and you scuff the wall. What's the quickest, most effective fix?

While you could repaint the wall to cover a small nick or scratch, it's just as effective, and a whole lot faster, to dab on some touch-up paint.

What can you sprinkle to silence squeaky wood floors?

Sprinkle baby powder, baking soda, or powdered graphite onto the floor and rub it into the seams.

What type of wiring is a known fire risk?

Knob-and-tube wiring, used in homes built mostly between 1880 to the 1930-ish, is a fire risk.

Which type of wiring connection is a known fire risk in more modern homes?

Over time, the connections where aluminum and copper meet begin to loosen, which can lead to fire. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, homes with aluminum wiring are 55 times more likely to have a hazardous connection than homes wired just with copper.

Combining which three types of lighting gives you the best lighting design for your rooms?

Combining ambient (general), task and accent (drama) lighting is the best lighting setup.

What was the average reported cost of a kitchen remodel in 2016?

Homeowners spent an average cost of $21,637 on kitchen remodels in 2016.

How much might you expect to budget for a small kitchen facelift, including fresh paint, refaced cabinets, sink upgrade and backsplash?

If you're new to renovation, this is the less expensive end of the spectrum, and is estimated usually between $10,000 and $15,000 (at 2017 prices).

After cutting the power to prevent accidents, what type of wrench should you use to adjust the flywheel of your a broken-down garbage disposal?

Use an Allen wrench to rotate the flywheel, which should help loosen any stuck items.

What color is a ground wire?

Although it's sometimes bare, the ground wire is almost always green.

When you're budgeting for home renovation, big or small, how much should you pad the number, just in case?

It's best to assume you'll need a budget that's 20 percent more than what you've estimated.

What can you try, before calling the plumber, to unclog a clogged toilet when a plunger doesn't work?

Most minor clogs should clear after about 8 to 10 plunges of your plunger. But if it doesn't, try a toilet auger next.

How long can it take for your new CFL bulbs to come to full brightness?

If you've never had CFLs before, according to ENERGY STAR® you can expect between 30 seconds and 3 mintues until full brightness.

What's the best way to loosen frozen nuts and bolts or a stuck water valve knob?

While this could be a job for a professional, you can do it with a penetrating oil and a blow-dryer.

If you don't get the right permit(s) for your project and something bad happens, will your homeowner's insurance cover your costs?

Nope. No permit, no insurance coverage.

Which is the most forgiving indoor paint finish?

Flat paint is the most forgiving if your walls or ceilings have imperfections.

What's the most common reason your toilet is "running" (you're constantly hearing water fill and drain from your toilet tank)?

End the constant running water sound, and save your water bill, with a new fill valve.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes