Home Maintenance Skills Every Waterloo Region Homeowner Should Master
Owning a Waterloo Region home comes with a lot of responsibilities, and that is certainly true of its upkeep. Many first time homeowners - used to having a parent or landlord take care of all the home maintenance ’stuff’ are surprised by just how much work is involved in the upkeep of their new home.
Keeping up with home maintenance not only helps ensure your house is a safer, more enjoyable place to call home but also that, should you decide to sell in the future, you’ll have a lot less work to do to ensure that it sells quickly and for the right price.
While home certain repairs require the skills of a professional, many home maintenance jobs can be handled on your own with a little know how, patience and effort.
If you learn these basic repair and upkeep skills you’ll be well on your way to being be a better homeowner and getting the most out of your investment in a home of your own.
How many of these are you already skilled in? How many do you need to work on? Read on and find out.
Clearing out Gutters
Even those who are afraid of heights can clean their gutters twice a year to avoid pests and ice dams. Leaves can be blown away by hand or with the use of a leaf blower, garden hose, or wet-dry vac. Always use a stabilizer when working from a ladder. If you prefer to work from the ground up, specific attachments for your leaf blower or wet-dry vac can help you get the job done.
Dealing with Drips
With a little elbow grease and know-how, you can fix a leaky faucet. To avoid losing any minor pieces when removing the faucet, turn off the water to the sink and plug the drain with a rag. A new rubber washer is required to seal a compression faucet, and a drippy washerless faucet can be stopped up with a new O-ring.
Maximizing Furnace Efficiency
The simplest way to improve furnace efficiency is to change your furnace filter every two months. It's quick, easy, and all-too-often overlooked. Select the appropriate filter for your model, switch off your furnace, and remove the service panel to replace the old filter. Because each furnace is unique, consult your owner's manual first for the exact instructions
Caring for Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors are frequently one of the most attractive elements of a property. With careful care, you can keep them that way. Cleaning chemicals developed for hardwood should be used; other cleaners can damage the surface. Spills can be cleaned up with a little water with a cloth, but too much water will damage the wood. Vacuum frequently with a hardwood floor attachment to pick up dust from between the boards without scratching them.
Swapping Out a Shower Head
A little project with a significant impact is replacing a shower head. Remove the old shower head and apply thread seal tape to the shower arm's base before screwing in the new one. Don't fasten it down too firmly. If you choose, you can replace the shower arm too—they're often sold separately but are also simple to install and can make a big difference to your enjoyment of your shower.
Installing a Better Thermostat
A programmable thermostat is a big step toward energy efficiency, and it's easy to install. Turn off the breaker to your furnace and air conditioner, then remove the old thermostat, leaving the wires in place. The number of wires (two or four) will help determine which type of thermostat you should buy. Either way, you're on the road to easier heating and cooling.
Dealing with Toilet Troubles
Every homeowner will have to deal with a clogged toilet at some point in their lives. With a plunger, an auger, rubber gloves, and a bucket, they're easy to fix. Shut off the water supply valve behind the toilet and dump out half of the water if the bowl is about to overflow. Start with a plunger, but if that fails, use an auger.
Resetting Your Circuit Breaker
When a circuit breaker trips, you temporarily lose power to your home, or a part of it. Resetting it is most often an easy fix. Just open your breaker box and find the switch that doesn’t look like all the rest. It might be set in the opposite direction, or just lightly off alignment. Push it to the OFF position, and then push it back ON.
While you have the box open, and you have a few minutes, you can make your life a lot easier in future by labeling the various switches if they are not already. To figure out which switch powers which area of your home, enlist some help and begin turning them off one by one, and then labelling the switch with the name of the area that goes dark.
Locate Wall Studs
Hanging a shelf or a heavy mirror? It's best to know where your wall studs are before you start—to save your time and your walls! When you knock on a wall, a spot with the stud behind it will sound solid. Alternatively, use a magnetic stud finder that beeps when it locates the nails in the boards. Happy hunting!
Keep Tiles Terrifically Clean
Sweep and vacuum porcelain floor tiles twice a week to keep them spotless. For a deep clean, soak for 5 to 10 minutes in a water-vinegar mixture and scrub with a soft-bristled brush once a month. Using a microfiber towel, dry. Avoid bleach, wax, oil-based cleaners, and hard scrubbers to keep your tiles looking new. This can all apply to wall tiles too.
Getting Grout Clean
Little-known fact: Grout's natural color is not mildew-gray. To successfully get at grout, spray warm water and scrub with a hard-bristled brush. For deep stains, cover with a baking soda-and-water paste, and spray with a mixture of vinegar and water for a cleansing foam. When the foaming stops, scrub and rinse your soon-to-be sparkling tiles.
Do you need some vertical storage? You can put up shelves, but make sure they're securely fastened to the wall studs to provide a stable foundation. Otherwise, install wall anchors that can sustain the weight that the shelves will be bearing. Before drilling, always use a level. You can use a level app on your smartphone if you don't have a standard or laser level.
Change a Ceiling Fan’s Direction
If your ceiling fans are spinning in the appropriate direction, they can help your HVAC system work more efficiently. Ceiling fans should be turned clockwise in the winter to create an updraft that pulls cold air up to the ceiling and allows warmer air to redistribute around the room. In the summer, a counterclockwise spin cools the room by sending air down and out. Reversing a fan is a two-step process that involves adjusting the blade angle and flipping a switch.
Maintaining trees and shrubs should be part of every homeowner’s regular landscaping chores. It’s not hard, and it requires only a few simple tools: hand pruners, lopers, and a pruning saw for larger branches. The first step in any pruning job is to remove any dead branches or wood. Then, you can move to shaping the tree or shrub for symmetry and size. These jobs are best taken care of in late fall or early spring, but for most varieties can be done as needed any time of year.
Mowing a Lawn
Mowing the lawn is a life skill everyone should learn. Whether your yard is small or large, learning a few simple dos and don’ts will make the job faster and the results more successful. Be sure to edge and trim prior to mowing. Time your mowing later in the day after dew has evaporated, and don’t cut any more than 1/3 of the grass blade length at any one time. Switch up your mowing pattern to reduce turf wear and soil compaction. Mowing the lawn is a task that yields nearly instant gratification and can be great exercise too if you use a walking mower (even better if it’s a push model.)
Painting Your Front Door
Adding a coat of paint to your front door will dramatically enhance the curb appeal of your property. This is a quick and easy DIY project for homeowners that only requires a few basic tools and supplies. Before you begin, make sure to remove any damaged or peeled paint and sand the door smooth. Wipe the door down well and allow it to dry. Take off all of the hardware. After that, begin painting the outside edges and corners. Each time you do this duty, you will be rewarded handsomely for what is really not too much effort.
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