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Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
BrBrian Peterson, a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, demonstrates how to make simple plumbing repairs during an education class.

PROVO — Many who rent — rather than own a home don't know how to do even the simplest of repairs — said an official with Habitat for Humanity of Utah County.

So the nonprofit organization that helps low-income people build their own homes is now offering five courses on simple home repairs.

Those involved in the self-help program are required to take them but anyone can join in, said Kena Mathews, a spokeswoman for Habitat for Humanity.

Several years ago, many of the new Habitat for Humanity homeowners found that their heaters didn't work. The repair was simple. The filters just needed to be changed.

"They had been renters all their lives. They never learned how to repair anything," Mathews said.

As a class project, Utah Valley State College student Jesse Roberts has developed a manual to go along with the new course. Brian Peterson of BHP Construction teaches. The classes are funded by the Ashton Foundation.

The class meets once a month with people who are in the process of having a home built. The first class dealt with plumbing problems.

Other topics include basic electrical repair, interior painting and wall repair, leaky roof repair, landscaping and lawn care, window and door insulation and home decorating.

While those who are building homes through Habitat for Humanity are required to attend the 90-minute classes other low-income people working to get affordable housing through the Rural Housing Development Corporation are encouraged to come.

Last week's course taught attendees how to replace the flapper in a toilet and the stopper in a bathroom sink. Peterson took the soon-to-be-homeowners through the simplest of steps, advising that repairing the pop-up sink stopper is "a little bit tricky."

"Now I know how to deal with the stopper itself," Galen Sorensen, a class member, said.

"I can go home and fix a few things," Tauni Hardman said after watching the instruction.

"My landlord should take this class," said another attendee, Rochelle Grimaud.

Peterson showed how to clear a clogged two-phase kitchen sink with a plunger. The trick: stop up the second sink, then plunge. That creates more pressure.

Keeping the sink clear in the first place is a better solution, so don't dump potato peelings down the sink, he said.

"I've pulled a lot of potato peelings out of pipes," he said.

Sometimes the kitchen sink strainers start to leak. To replace them a homeowner may need to borrow a wrench from a home supply store to remove the large nut, he said.

As for unclogging toilets, Peterson advised using a plunger or a simple plumber's snake. Failing that, the clog is likely near the base so remove the toilet to better get at the blockage, which could be a small toy or excessive toilet paper, he said.

As for clearing main pipes that repeatedly clog Peterson had this simple suggestion:

"Call a plumber."

If you go . . .

What: Home Maintenance Series

Where: Habitat ReStore, 626 N. Freedom Blvd., Provo

When: 5:30 p.m., last Wednesday of each month

Cost: free, no reservations required

Phone: 344-8527

E-mail: [email protected]