- A home maintenance expert who posts hacks on TikTok shared the biggest DIY mistakes people make.
- The “Trans Handy Ma’am” said people confuse their tools and should avoid chemical drain cleaners.
- She told Insider: “You’d be surprised, different textures of hair will clog the pipes differently.”
A Wisconsin home-maintenance expert who makes viral tutorials on TikTok says there are some key mistakes people make when carrying out DIY projects at home.
The 34-year-old cabaret and burlesque performer, who goes by the name Mercury Stardust on TikTok, adopted the title “Trans Handy Ma’am” after helping her audience of 1.5 million followers with home improvement tasks like unclogging a bathtub via step-by-step videos.
Stardust told Insider she took an internship as a maintenance technician when she was 19 and needed a day job while traveling across America to perform in gay bars. She began making videos about being a performer and her transgender journey in March, and turned to DIY after seeing a TikTok video of a woman who was upset because she couldn’t use a ratchet strap.
“I just did a real quick step-by-step video in my car with a ratchet strap and for some reason, it resonated with a lot of people,” she said of her April 5 tutorial, which has over 440,000 views at the time of writing. “By the end of the month, I had 100,000 followers and by July I had a million.”
Stardust said she creates content full-time and does virtual consultations, adding that she thinks people are open to learning from her because she leads with more compassion than a typically older male tradesman might.
Since creating these videos, she said she learned key mistakes people make when maintaining their home.
People don’t always know the difference between drills
“People don’t know the difference between an impact driver and a power drill and will use the wrong one for the wrong thing,” said Stardust, noting that it happens a lot.
Stardust said once you know the different uses for drills, it’s easy to tell them apart: “A power drill is great for drilling, for example, into the wood and making a hole. The impact driver is great for driving — so it’s great for putting screws into an already made hole,” she said.
She added that the easiest way to tell them apart is to own both, but if this isn’t possible, it’s better to own a power drill.
Chemical drain cleaners may seem like an easy fix but do more harm than good
Stardust said chemical drain cleaners are effective when there’s a small amount of hair to break down, but that’s as far as it goes.
“Drainpipes are disgusting, sometimes they have 20, 30, 40 years of hair, muck, and crud in there,” she added. She said loosening hair allows it to travel deeper into pipes and create a blockage that’s harder to reach. The best thing to do, she said, is “use a hand auger to pull out as much as possible and do it multiple times.”
She noted that different textures of hair will clog differently, and this isn’t accounted for with chemical cleaners.
Stud finders can give false readings about where screws are in walls
Stardust said another mistake people make is relying solely on stud finders to locate the screws in the framing behind drywall. “They sometimes give false readings, it doesn’t always tell me exactly where it is,” she said.
She advised using a combination of a stud finder and a magnet to give a “much better idea” of where they’re located.
Stardust said the key to learning DIY is to not put too much pressure on yourself: “It can be very difficult. I’ve read some pretty hard emails over the eight months that I’ve been on and how much emotion we put in these repairs.” Instead, she urged people to find technical support in the online communities they feel safe in.