Quarantine has been going on for more than a month now, and there’s no telling how long it will continue before we get back to our normal routines. So if you’re looking for something to help keep you busy or if your house has been neglected because of life’s usual hustle and bustle, check out these easy home maintenance projects that you can do without leaving your house!
1. Inspect the Outside of Your Home
Walk around the exterior of your home and look at it from the ground to the roof to see if there is anything obvious that needs to be addressed.
Look at all of your exterior walls, around windows, at the soffit and fascia boards for rot or other damage. Look for any warped or splintered boards on porches or decks. Make sure trees and shrubs are well trimmed and not touching the exterior walls or roof. Inspect window screens for tears or holes to prevent insects from entering.
Gutters are something that are easily forgotten but very important to the health of your home. Now as we’re entering the rainy season, it’s important to check up on them to make sure they are working properly. Gutters are designed to re-route water and debris away from your foundation and siding. Use this time to make sure there are no blockages or leaks, and that the gutters are all well-attached to your fascia board.
Other than putting up Christmas lights, most of us probably don’t get on the roof very often. However, doing occasional check-ups of your roof can save you a lot of money and headaches in the future. If you’re able, climb on the roof to check for missing or damaged shingles, rubbing tree limbs or any other damage. If you find something, take care of it as quickly as possible to decrease the likelihood of further damage.
Check all of your home’s faucets and ensure that none of them are leaking. If there is a leak, try replacing the rubber washer. Turn off the main water supply, unscrew the leaky handle, and drop in a new rubber washer. You could also try tightening the packing nut underneath the handle using a wrench.
If your faucet’s flow seems lower than usual, check your aerator screen. Often, a dirty screen has build-up that prevents normal flow. You can normally unscrew the aerator from the faucet, take it apart and rinse the buildup off. If this doesn’t work, try scrubbing it with a toothbrush or soaking it in vinegar to dissolve any debris.
Leaks not only affect your utility bill, but they can cause damage to the toilet and other structures in your bathroom. Make sure there are no leaks and that the water is not running for too long. Some people suggest putting a little food coloring in your tank to see if it leaks into the bowl. You may already be aware of a problem because your toilet constantly runs unless you jiggle the handle or open the tank to fix the flapper or chain. Often, the water runs continuously because the water level in the tank is too high.
The type of fill valve in your toilet tank will determine how you adjust the water level in the tank, but it is always an easy thing to do. Whatever the issue is, you will want to fix it sooner rather than later. (You can purchase a new flapper and chain for less than $5 on Amazon, and if it’s just the chain, check out this easy hack to fix it with just a plastic straw!)
If there are bigger problems or leaks coming from elsewhere in the toilet, you may need to call a plumber.
As we know, water can cause a lot of damage to our homes! Check for leaks or any other major concerns in your showers or bathtubs. Remove any buildup on the shower head and unclog the drain. Make sure there is no mold growing on the tiles or in the grout. Check to see if the sealant is still intact. This sealant helps to keep water from going where it shouldn’t!
7. Check Your Washing Machine Line
A washing machine line is a place that many people would not think to check for a leak. But just like the items mentioned above, it is important to check periodically. A leak here could waste water, cause mold and mildew to grow in your laundry room, and cause water damage to your floors and walls if undetected for too long.
8. Test Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Detectors
This one is self-explanatory. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are basic home safety features that literally save lives! Push the tester button on them to make sure the batteries still have life in them. Even if they seem to work, consider replacing them if you have not done so recently. USFA (U.S. Fire Administration) recommends replacing the batteries at least once or twice a year. Most smoke detectors will last less than ten years, so if your detectors are close to ten years old, it would be a good idea to go ahead and replace them. (You can find an assortment of these online as well so you don’t even need to leave your home.)
9. Weather Stripping
Good weather stripping helps reduce utility bills by creating a tighter seal around door frames and window seals so inclement weather does not creep in. The tight seal also helps to prevent bugs from entering. Sometimes you will be able to visually tell that it needs replacing by seeing basic wear and tear or loose pieces, or by looking for light coming in around the edges of the door. Another technique you might try is doing the dollar bill test (for doors) or the wet-hand test (for windows) to check the seal. If you don’t have extra weather stripping on hand, you could use caulk to help seal the door or window. Both of these products can be found on Amazon or other online shops and easily shipped to your front door.
10. Air Conditioning
The weather is warming up which means that our A/C units will soon be put to good use (if they’re not already). Make sure you have a clean air conditioning filter installed. Make sure your A/C drains like it’s supposed to – away from your A/C unit and your home’s walls. You don’t want any water or condensation to back up, resulting in wet walls or carpet. Clean your unit and keep debris and bushes away from the condenser coils.
Since we won’t need our heaters for a while, it’s also a good idea to drain and clean your humidifier if you have one. This will keep mold and mildew from forming. You can also change your evaporation pad, which should be done every year.
12. Fix a Sticking Door or Window
Find some WD40 or another lubricant to fix those doors or windows that stick but you always seem to forget about until it’s actually happening.
Cleaning your dishwasher regularly will help it last as long as possible and keep it working like it should. Go for a good, deep clean, especially if you haven’t done it in a while. Take out the bottom rack and check the drain to make sure there is nothing clogging it. Remove and wash the filter with soapy water. Grab your vinegar and baking soda, and run a hot, empty cycle with each of the ingredients separate. Replace your filter when it’s done.
14. Refrigerator Coils
The coolant in your refrigerator’s coils is what keeps your fridge cold, so it is important to maintain these both for product and cost efficiency. Don’t make your refrigerator work harder than it has to! Make sure the coils and the area around them are clean and free of dust.
15. Garbage Disposal
Clean and ensure that there are no clogs in your garbage disposal. You can use cleaning products, but those are hard to come by right now. A lot of people use baking soda and vinegar to kill bacteria and deodorize any funky smells. If you want to get it really clean, grab a wrench and bucket and crawl under the sink. After placing your bucket under the pipes to catch any spills, disconnect the pipe leading from the disposal and remove any trapped debris. You can run hot water or a cleaning solution through to be thorough.
16. Washing Machine
Just because your washing machine is constantly cleaning doesn’t mean it stays clean on its own. It’s possible for dirt and grime to build up over time, as well as for mold and mildew to grow in the seal if it builds up water. Make sure the seal is dry and free of mold. To clean the inside, you can run an empty load using available household supplies like liquid bleach or, yet again, a vinegar/baking soda mix.
Just like cleaning the lint trap on your dryer, you should occasionally clean the dryer hose and vent. This will minimize the risk of fires and will help your dryer work more efficiently.
18. Range Hood
I have a whole blog dedicated to the importance of range hoods. Range hoods are not just designed to be used when you burn some food and want to get the odor and smoke out of your kitchen. Range hoods serve multiple purposes – all of which are related to the indoor air quality of your home. Keep it clean! Wipe it down and remove any stains. Take out the filter and clean with hot water, dish soap, and baking soda to remove all the grease. Don’t scrub too hard as to not damage the filter, and rinse and dry before inserting it back into the range hood.
19. Flush and Clean Water Heater
Cleaning your water heater helps it to run more efficiently as well as prolong its life. It gets rid of sediment and mineral deposits that have settled at the bottom of the tank. You can watch this video to learn how to flush your water heater.
20. Emergency Utility Shut-off
While this isn’t exactly a home maintenance project, you might as well use this time to make sure you know how to shut off all utilities in case of an emergency, as well as ensuring they can all be turned off without hassle or delay. It’s a crazy time and we’re learning that the unexpected can happen. See my previous blog on how to shut off your utilities to learn how to do it yourself.
While some of these projects may seem like small, insignificant tasks, they are important when it comes to maintaining your home. After all, your home is a precious (and valuable) asset- it takes a little work to keep it that way!