39 Home Repairs You Need to Make Before Someone Gets Hurt

Updated: Feb. 12, 2024

How many of these home repairs have you put off to next week…and the next week…and the next week? Find out why that’s downright dangerous.

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shutterstock_523271062 stairs railing

Loose Stair Rails

If you’ve got a loose handrail for your stairs, it’s best to fix it right away. More than 1 million Americans hurt themselves by falling down stairs annually, according to a study by the American Journal of Emergency Medicine. It comes with an estimated $92 billion in direct and indirect costs. Here’s how you can prevent stair falls by fixing loose handrails.

Also check out these home security tips to protect your house and your loved ones with inexpensive, easy-to-install devices!

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Gas Range

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning death. One place it comes from within your home is a gas range, so install and use an exhaust vent when ever you use the range. Which is better for your kitchen: a gas or electric range?

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Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Air Conditioners

An AC unit can be a major blessing on a hot summer day, but if it’s leaking, you’re in trouble! According to Heathline, a leaking AC unit can cause refrigerant poisoning, which can lead to heart palpitations, seizures and cut off oxygen to your lungs and cells which can ultimately result in death. If your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant, you should purchase a Freon leak repair kit that contains the hose, valve and sealant and follow the directions carefully. Here’s how to double the life of your air conditioner.

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metal kitchen vent hood
CSD Dmitriy Tikhonenko/Shutterstock

Your Range Hood

According to Brett Singer, Ph.D., “Literally, millions to many millions of people are routinely being exposed to air pollutants at levels that we don’t allow outdoors.” He told the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would say we don’t have a carbon monoxide or nitrogen dioxide problem in this country…We absolutely do have that problem. It’s just happening indoors.” The key is to design stove range hoods that are far more effective since most ones in use today are generally inefficient at capturing the pollutants and transporting them outside.

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peeling lead paint
Joyce Vincent/Shutterstock

Lead Paint

The chances of your home having lead paint are high if your home was built before 1978. If old paint is chipping or cracking, the toxicity can be inhaled or ingested, especially during renovations. According to the Mayo Clinic, lead exposure can result in developmental delays, abdominal pain, neurological changes and irritability. At high levels, it can be fatal. Here’s our guide to removing lead paint safely.

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Invisible mold spores are everywhere, although they need moisture to turn into the real deal. When full-fledged mold occurs, it can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Some molds even produce toxic substances called mycotoxins, which have been linked to nausea, immune system suppression, liver damage, central nervous system damage and cancer. Here’s how to remove mold.

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HVAC System repair tech

The Furnace

Furnaces can both be a fire hazard as well a source of gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning. Stay on the safe side by getting your furnace serviced at least once a year. Take a look at these three easy DIY furnace repairs.

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Brett Hondow/Shutterstock

Older Model Blind Cords

Research has found that about one child a month dies after becoming entangled in cords from blinds and shades. While headway has been made to get corded blinds off the market, if they’re in your home, be sure to remove them ASAP, especially on floor-to-ceiling windows with long cords. They pose a major danger.

Need to clean your mini-blinds? Here’s one way to do it!

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Loose Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are a great way to cool off without taking up floor space, but a loose ceiling fan dropping on your head is less than ideal! If the fan’s ceiling mount is loose or weak, the fan could end up on the floor. Here’s how to fix a wobbly ceiling fan.

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Damaged Electrical Outlets

Exposed electrical outlets can put you and your family at a major risk for getting electrocuted. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission accounts for nearly 200 people dying from home electrocutions per year. Prevent accidents by calling a licensed electrician to fix or repair damaged electrical outlets and wiring. Here is how to replace an electrical outlet.

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Old Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

With fires injuring or killing more than 20,000 people each year, it’s important to test your smoke alarms to maintain proper safety. It’s also necessary to check your carbon monoxide alarms regularly, since carbon monoxide leads to 500 deaths annually. Here’s when to replace a carbon monoxide detector.

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Your Foundation

Radon is everywhere, even in the open sea. However, when it concentrates, radon becomes a problem. It most commonly accumulates in well-insulated office buildings and homes. The World Health Organization (WHO) found 40 case-control studies that have contributed to understanding the link between radon exposure indoors and lung cancer. “Since the pressure in the interior of your home is lower than that of the soil surrounding your home, radon is able to seep into your home through the foundation,” explains S.W.A.T Environmental. The foundation does not have to be cracked to allow radon to enter, although a crack in the basement wall or home foundation can certainly make the problem worse.”

Here is our guide to radon and how to stop it.

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repair brick mortar joints
Family Handyman

Loose Brick

A loose brick can ultimately lead to major problems – even a wall collapse – but the fix is simple. Find out what it takes to fix a loose brick.

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Loose outdoor railings
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Loose Outdoor Railings

Decks and outdoor stairs can develop wobbly railings, often due to a wobbly bottom post. Don’t delay fixing wobbly outdoor railings because failure to do so could lead to serious falls and injuries, especially from deck stairs. See what you can do about fixing subpar stair railings.

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Concrete repair
Family Handyman

Patch Up Sidewalk Paths

You might be familiar with the concrete chunk that fell out of a step or the deep crack along the sidewalk but somebody else, like a delivery person, won’t know about it. Prevent any falls or twisted ankles by patching up a busted up sidewalk with these tips.

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Overview: The weak deck problem and solutions

Overview: The weak deck problem and solutions

If you've thought to yourself maybe it's time to check my deck; then it's time. A well-built deck will last for decades. But a deck that's rotting or missing fasteners, or that moves when you walk on it, may be dangerous. Decks built by inexperienced do-it-yourselfers, not inspected when they were built, or more than 15 years old (building codes were different back then!) are susceptible to serious problems. Every year, people are severely injured, even killed, when decks like these fall down. This has usually happened during parties when the deck was filled with guests. Now for the good news. Most of the fixes are quick, inexpensive and easy. Home centers and lumberyards carry the tools and materials you'll need. Or visit strongtie.com to find local stores that stock anchors, post bases and connectors. In this article, we'll show you the warning signs of a dangerous deck—and how to fix the problems. If you're still not sure whether your deck is safe, have it inspected by your local building inspector.
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A Showerhead Grab Bar is a Big Help

A Showerhead Grab Bar is a Big Help

For people with limited mobility or who prefer to shower while seated, a handheld showerhead is a terrific help. And even better is a handheld showerhead on a sliding rail that allows for individual adjustment. But because those rails are often flimsy, grabbing one could be a disaster. Look for an ADA-compliant grab bar with a sliding handheld showerhead. Here are 20 additional tips for creating a safe home for older family members and guests.

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Check for Ice Dams
Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Check for Ice Dams

If your home lacks good insulation and venting, there's a good chance it may be prone to ice dams. Get outside regularly during the winter and check around the house for signs of icicles and large chunks of ice near the edge of your roof. Water melting off the roof pools behind the ice and then seeps back up under the shingles. And sometimes water can work its way 5 or even 10 ft. back up under the shingles. Eventually it drips through the roof into the soffits (the outside overhangs), walls, and worst of all, onto your ceilings.
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Clear Snow Away from Vents

Clear Snow Away from Vents

During the winter months, regularly check your outdoor vents—such as your furnace and dryer vents—to make sure they are clear of snow and ice. Blocked vents can cause carbon monoxide to build up.
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Trim Branches

Trim Branches

Heavy snow, ice and strong winds can wreak havoc on tree branches. So be sure to remove dead or damaged trees and limbs to protect your home over the harsh winter months.
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Slippery Bathroom

From an aesthetics standpoint a non-slip bath mat isn’t great but that’s a tradeoff with safety. Nearly a quarter of million people suffer injuries annually, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control. Pick up this non-slip bath mat at Amazon and add it to the list of things you can do to make your home safer. 

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20171010_192237 box cube toy storage
Photo: Brenda Porter-Rockwell

Loose Toys

How many times have told the kids to pick up their toys and how many Legos have you stepped on? Take the time and try out one of these 12 brilliant ideas to store toys.

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Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

Dishwasher Latch

You’re likely familiar with the steam the escapes from a dishwasher after a drying cycle so if you’ve got a loose latch, tighten it up to prevent any kind of steam burns or any injury that could occur by running into the open door. You can pick up this appliance lock from Amazon to lock up a dishwasher, refrigerator or a microwave. If you’ve got other dishwasher issues, we’ve got the solution with these tips.

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Tipping Furniture

Every year, thousands of children are injured by furniture tipping over. Every two weeks, a child is killed by a tip-over. The stats, which come from the Consumer Reports (CR) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, reveal there were 195 deaths caused by tip-overs between 2000 and 2016. CR also reported that in 2016, 2,800 incidents of injury to children from a falling piece of furniture occurred—a 33 percent spike from 2015.

Dresser tip-overs are the biggest culprit, with children pulling out dresser drawers to climb on them. Even the sturdiest dressers can fall forward. Check out this hack to prevent a bookcase from falling over.

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Loose Carpet

There shouldn’t be peaks and valleys in your carpet. Just think one false move and you’re flat on your face. Take the time and see how you can stretch your carpet out to eliminate any potential injury risk.

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Broken Tiles

Broken tile can have jagged edges which will make walking around precarious. Replacing tile is tough work but these tips can help you get it done.

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GFCI outlet
Family Handyman

Add GFCI Outlets

GFCI outlets reduce the danger of deadly shock from faulty plug-in cords and devices. A GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) is a special type of outlet that detects dangerous ground faults and immediately turns off the power to stop shocks. You can replace almost any electrical outlet with a GFCI outlet. Correctly wired GFCIs will also protect other outlets on the same circuit. Here’s the whole scoop on GFCIs and how to install them.

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Hot Water

A hot water issue can sneak up on you in a bad way so it’s important to nip the issue in the bud. Here’s how to set your water heater at the proper temperature. Find out why your water heater needs flushing at least once a year.

Photo: Via Structure Tech

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Family Handyman

Having a Dirty Stove While You Cook

If your stove is covered with grease and other flammable grime, a small kitchen fire can get out of hand quickly. Clean and clear the area around the stove before turning on the heat. (Learn how to keep your kitchen health-inspector approved in less than 5 minutes.)

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outlet extension

Loose Outlets

The constant movement of loose electrical outlets can loosen the wires connected to the outlet and create dangerous arcing. Luckily, the fix is simple, check it out here.

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The old wiring of antique appliances make them a safety risk because the wiring dries and becomes brittle, which could fuel a fire. For those who especially love shopping for vintage light fixtures it’s imperative to know how old the wiring is, if the wiring has been replaced and whether the wiring is European or from the U.S. Look for a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label somewhere on the wiring for a quick reference to see if it’s safe. UL tests lighting fixtures for safety. Check out the other super useful acronyms DIYers need to know.

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shutterstock_273329774 dust wood floors

Dust Bunnies

There’s a super important reason why dusting is a vital chore at home. Those dust bunnies when near a spark will ignite and spread a fire quickly. Dust bunnies near a space heater and electrical sockets are a huge fire hazard. Make your home dust bunny free with these 100 essential cleaning hacks for your home.

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Exposed Lightbulbs

Those closet lights that don’t have an enclosure around them pose a fire and safety risk in the home. According to Buell Inspections, under normal circumstances a 60-watt light bulb will not get hotter than 175 degrees Fahrenheit but under some conditions it could reach close to between 290-500 degrees, high enough to ignite things likes table tennis balls, which begin to melt around 130-150 degrees, according to Nittaku, a table tennis equipment manufacturer.

Find out how to pick LED lights that will help you save on energy costs.

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Family Handyman

Water Line

Any kind of clog, leaking line or supply line issue is typically the start to a potentially seriously dangerous situation. Got questions about PEX? Here’s what you need to know about PEX.

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Backdrafting Water Heater

Sometimes, the cause of backdrafting is obvious: A vent pipe may be disconnected from a vent hood, for example, or a vent may slope downward. But even a properly installed vent might occasionally backdraft because of high winds or other unusual circumstances. So the surest way to protect your family is to install carbon monoxide alarms. If you don’t have CO alarms in your house, go get them today. Find out more about the six signs your house is failing.

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Family Handyman

Cracked Heat Exchange at Furnace

So what’s a cracked heat exchanger all about and what’s the big deal? I wrote a blog post many years ago discussing that topic, and the gist of my blog post was the same as what’s stated on the COmyths website; a cracked heat exchanger probably isn’t as dangerous as many folks make it out to be, but the furnace (or heat exchanger) still needs replacement. Here’s the post: How Serious Is A Cracked Heat Exchanger? — Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech

Here are three easy furnace repairs and two you should avoid trying.

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Bulge in Washing Machine Hose?
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Bulge in Washing Machine Hose?

What it means: The hose is ready to burst.
A bulging washing machine hose is an emergency. It may burst next year, next week or right now. But it will fail and it won't just leak—it will gush. In just a few minutes, it can do thousands of dollars in damage.

Plus: The Top 10 DIY Appliance Repairs

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Efflorescence on Chimney Brick?
Kara Grubis/Shutterstock

Efflorescence on Chimney Brick?

What it means: Too much moisture inside the chimney Efflorescence is the white material that appears on brick. It occurs when moisture moves through masonry. That moisture picks up minerals and leaves them behind in the form of tiny crystals. The minerals themselves do no harm, and a small amount of efflorescence is common. But heavy efflorescence on your chimney is a cause for concern. It's a sign of moisture inside the chimney—and when that moisture freezes, it can slowly wreck the chimney from the inside out. Even more alarming, your flue liner could be cracked or broken, and deadly combustion gases from your furnace, fireplace or water heater may be leaking into your home. Plus: Secret Cleaning Tips From the Pros
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Make Windows Safe for Kids
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Make Windows Safe for Kids

Each year in the United States nearly 15,000 children are injured because of falls from windows. Window screens are not strong enough to prevent falls. In rooms on upper floors, install window guards with quick-release mechanisms (in case of fire) to prevent windows from opening more than a few inches. And keep furniture away from windows so kids aren't tempted to climb near them. Window guards are available from safebeginnings.com and other online retailers, home centers and department stores.