Easy Metal Fixes to Do Yourself

Someone wearing work gloves cutting corrugated metal.

Replacing metal items can get pretty pricey, but in some cases it’s totally unnecessary. There are lots of easy metal fixes you can do yourself at home, from polishing tarnished pieces and smoothing out dents and pits in your favorite items to repairing your own metal roof. It’s a lot easier than you may think to fix up your own metal items—and it will save a lot of money in all those replacement costs.

Polishing Metal

A small metal bowl of ketchup against a white background.

Over time, silver gets dull and copper turns a different color. But you don't need to put on gloves and break out fancy chemicals to get your metal shining again. Though it sounds strange, ketchup actually works wonders when it comes to polishing metal. Coat your metal items lightly with common ketchup and let it sit for 5 to 30 minutes, depending on how much tarnish you're dealing with. Use a toothbrush to scrub your metal item with the ketchup. Rinse well, dry thoroughly, and admire your shining metal. Keep in mind that when using ketchup, less is more. If you're unsure, use less ketchup and let it sit for less time, working your way up to a larger amount and longer time. Ketchup is highly acidic, and it can damage delicate metals and jewelry if you let it sit for too long.

Refurbishing Pitted and Dented Metal

Rust and ordinary wear and tear take a toll on metal. If you have a metal piece that's pitted and old, don't simply paint over it—it won't work, and soon it will appear even worse. Start by aggressively sanding your pitted metal with ordinary sandpaper or a power sander. Use a wire brush to then clean the metal completely so it's paint and rust-free.

Metal filler can be purchased at any home store. Mix it up yourself using the instructions, and smooth it over your pitted metal with a putty knife. Sand the metal again after it dries, and the item should look new again—or at least much better than it did. This method can be used to repair small cracks and fractures in metal pieces as well.

Patching a Hole

A metal roof or other building components work well until that metal is damaged. Instead of replacing the entire roof, install a single patch to replace that damaged area. Use wire snips to cut away the old metal and cut out a new piece of sheet metal for the patch. Use metal sealant liberally along the seams to install the new patch. Once excess sealant is wiped away and the whole thing has dried, use sheet metal screws to further secure the patch all around the edges. With a little fresh paint, the repair should hardly be noticeable.

Repairing Copper and Brass

A soldering iron heating up a piece of copper pipe.

A soldering iron can be used to make repairs to copper and brass. The metal must be heated first. Then, while still heating the metal with the soldering iron, the solder itself is applied. Any home store will sell complete soldering kits that come with all the items you'll need to make simple repairs to copper and brass pipes, as well as other items made from these metals.

Soldering a new piece of metal to an old piece of metal to make a repair, however, will leave a noticeable seam. Even when you use a fitting to join the two pieces of metal pipe together, the end result may not be as structurally sound as a whole, undamaged piece of pipe. If you're trying to repair a brass bed, for example, the soldered area of metal may not be as strong as it was before there was any damage at all. Soldering water pipes in particular can also be tricky, as you can be left with leaks if you aren't sure of what you're doing.

Doing your own metal fixes can help extend the life of your favorite items, and even help you save big on potentially costly home repairs. When you can do simple fixes on your own, you can get a lot more out of your metal items and love them for much longer.