Even small tasks, will go a long way towards getting you out of the winter funk and getting your house ready for the spring. Luckily, there are many easy and quick home repair tasks you can do during the middle of winter. To make this the most efficient, create a to-do list and shop for supplies all at once, then check off the tasks once you complete them.
What to look and Listen For
Look around in each room and make a list of what needs fixing or improving. Focus on the small, quick fix changes, not major redox. Here is a list of some things on what to look for:
- Squeaky Door Hinges Eliminate those squeaky doors by putting a powdered graphite ($2.50 for a 3-gram tube) along the tin where the hinge rotates. If the door is sticking, sand off a bit of the wood, then use some touch up paint that way the surgery is not noticeable.
- Sagging Towel Rack or Wobbly Toilet Tissue Holder First, unscrew the fixture from the wall and look for the culprit. It is most likely a wimpy, push-in type of plastic drywall anchor. Pull that out of the wall (or poke it through the wall) and replace it with one that is more substantial. Toggle bolts are going to be the strongest, the ones with threads such as an E-Z Anchor are the easiest to install.
- Creaky Floor Boards They will quiet down if they are fastened down better. You can get anti-squeek kits, such as ‘Squeeeeek No More’ ($23), it is specifically designed screws that are easy to conceal. A lower-cost alternative to the kit is to dust a little talcum powder into the seam in between the floorboards – the talcum powder acts as a barrier to quiet the boards that are rubbing against one another.
- Blistered Paint on Shower Ceilings The area above your shower gets a lot of heat and moisture. Scrape off the old paint and re-coat it ousting a high-quality exterior-grade paint. Be sure that everyone is using the bathroom vent when showering, this will help to get rid of excess moisture.
- Rusty Shutoff Valves Check behind toilets and under sinks for shutoff valves to your water supply lines. These infrequently used valves may slowly rust in place over time, and then they may not work when you really need to use them. To keep them in operating condition put a little bit of machine oil or WD-40 on the handle shafts. Twist the handles back and forth to make sure the oil gets into the threads. When doing this, and they won’t budge, give the oil a few hours to distribute itself, and then try again.
- Loose Handles or Hinges on Furniture, Cabinets, and Doors Most of the time, you can probably fix these with a few turns of a screwdriver. But in the case that the acre just spins in place, try switching to a larger screw.
You know all of those routine safety checks you keep meaning to do but don’t make the time for it? Now’s the time.
- Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors If you are not a fan of waking up to the annoying chirp when the smoke detector batteries ear down, take the recommendations of many fire departments and simply replace all of the batteries at the same time once a year.
- Exhaust Filter for the Kitchen Stove Washing it to remove grease will increase the efficiency of your exhaust vent. Plus, if a kitchen stovetop fire happens, this will prevent the flames from spreading.
- Ground-Fauly Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Outlets It is recommended to test them at least once a month, but who does? Now it a great time. You will find these outlets around potentially wet areas such as in kitchens, bathrooms and outdoors. Make sure the outlet trips and resets correctly. If you find one that is not working correctly, replace it or have an electrician do it for $75 to $100. Another project is to replace your GFCI outlets with the newest generation of protected outlets that test themselves, such as Levitron’s SmartlockPro Self-Test GFCI ($28). That way you will never have to manually test them ever again!
- Electrical Cords Take a look at all of your electrical cords, look for any that are brittle, cracked, or have damaged plugs and replace them. If you are using extension cords, to eliminate them, replace the too-short lamp cord with one that is longer. If you don’t want to rewire your cords drop them off at a repair shop when you are out shopping for the rest of your repair materials. It may not be ready the same day, but its one repair you don’t have to do yourself and you can check it off your list.
- Drain hoses Take a look at your clothes washer, dishwasher, and ice-maker. If you see any drips or cracks, replace the hose to prevent coming home to a flood one day.
- Clothes Dryer Vent Pull the dryer away from the wall, disconnect the vent pipe, and vacuum lint out of the pipe and the place where it connects to the dryer. Also, wipe the lint off your exterior dryer vent so the flap opened and closes easily (you’ll need to go outside for that, but it is quick). Remember, vents that are clogged with old dryer ling are one of the leading causes of house fires.