The Lazy Homeowner: 25 Easy Home Improvement Tips
At Victor®, our goal is to make things easy on homeowners. We offer simple solutions for your rodent control problems. Naturally, we feel the same way about other household chores too – we like them simple to complete. After all, many homeowners just don’t have the time. With that that in mind, we came up with a list of 25 such chores that can be completed in just a few minutes, save you money in the long run or protect your home from even bigger problems in the future.
25 Timesaving Household Tips and Money-Savers for Lazy Homeowners
1) SAVE YOUR PAINT COLORS: One of the biggest hassles of homeownership is having to do paint touchups. To save yourself some trouble later on, pour some of your new paint into a clean baby food jar for later use. Do this before you begin painting, rather than after because it’s easy to forget as your gallon can of paint begins to empty!
2) NO-TOUCH RULE: Keep bushes, shrubs, and trees from touching the walls of your house. Plant life will keep your siding damp, which promotes algae and mold growth and will cause paint to peel and rot away wood. Most importantly, it also serves as a pathway for insects and rodents to gain access to your house! The simple rule is that you should always trim back any plant that comes within 12 inches of a structure.
3) REPLACE HOSES: Check the hoses leading to your dishwasher, clothes washer and, if applicable, your fridge. If any of these lines are made of rubber or plastic, change them to braided stainless steel, which is far less likely to burst. A broken hose can lead to thousands of dollars of damage in just a few minutes.
4) CHECK YOUR WATER METER: Turn off all the water in your house, and go check your water meter. Is the low-flow indicator (the little red nob) wiggling? If so, you have a leak somewhere and you need to go find it! A simple leak can cost you hundreds of dollars a year!
5) ORGANIZE THE RIGHT TOOLS: Over the years, you’re bound to develop quite a collection of tools, and once you do it can be hard to find the right one at a moment’s notice. Your best bet is to put together multiple tool bucket or boxes – one for each of the main maintenance tasks including a bucket to hold your plumbing tools, another for painting supplies, one for electronics and appliance repair, one for electrical work and so on. Spread spare tools out among each of your specialty tool boxes to save time in an emergency.
6) SEAL YOUR HOME: Take a walk around the perimeter of your home. Any hole you find can be a place for invading rodents and bugs to gain access to your home. Fill these holes and gaps with steel wool and weather-resistant caulk. Don’t just look for “damage” that needs to be repaired, also keep an eye out for gaps around windows, vents, utility lines and piping that aren’t completely sealed. Aside from protecting you from pests, you’ll also save money on heating and cooling bills.
7) LIMIT THE LEAF LOAD: Raking leaves can be a chore, and getting them to the curbside can be even worse since you need to haul wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full of leaves to the dumpsite. Instead of all that hard work, put a tarp down and rake all your leaves on to the tarp. Once they’re all loaded on top, simply drag the tarp to the curb. Since leaves don’t weigh much, it’s easy to pull!
8) STOP DRAFTS: Air often escapes or enters the home through the gaps around your light fixtures, outlets and switch plates. Rather than installing foam gaskets to stop these drafts, go a step further and fill with intumescent (fire-proof) foam or caulk. Once the product dries, cut it back flush with the wall or ceiling and re-install the cover or fixture. Along with cutting back on drafts, you’re also blocking another entry point for pests!
9) COLOR MATCH MARKERS: Got a scratch on a piece of furniture, your floor or a cabinet? Visit your local paint store and buy “stain markers” that match the color of your damaged item. Even if they require regular touch-ups, it sure is easier than sanding and re-staining the entire thing!
9) LOCATE LEAKS: Aside from the drafts around switch plates and outlets, you should also inspect your doors and windows for leaks. In the summer, these open spaces cost you money while the air conditioner is running. In the winter, they add to your heating bills. Check around doors and windows for visible gaps first, but also test for other drafts too. You can detect them by damping your fingertip and feeling for a breeze. Another option is to hold a tissue near the window or door and seeing if it moves in the breeze. Once you detect these leaks, add caulk or gaskets to seal them appropriately.
11) MICE LOVE IT: If you have drop ceilings in your home, then you have a haven for mice that can create a real mess. As a preventative measure, place a few Victor® Easy Set® Mouse Traps along the outside edge of the ceiling. These scented traps don’t need to be baited, so they’re great to use as a precaution against rodent invasions – just check them every few weeks for a capture.
12) THE POWER OF THE VACUUM: Your vacuum cleaner can be a big help! Take it beyond carpet-cleaning and recruit it to vacuum the coils of your refrigerator and freezer. Doing so will ease the power those appliances use and save money in the process. Also, vacuum out your dryer vents to keep your fire risk down. Both of these simple chores should be done about once a year.
13) THE RIGHT CORD: The tangle of cords behind your TV, computer or other electronic-heavy setup is certainly unsightly, but it also provides free food and shelter for pests. Some bugs, for example, love to dine on our shed hair follicles and skin cells. Mice may use the area to collect dust bunnies and other debris to line their nests. Take the time to organize your mess of cords so they don’t trap so much dust and debris. Mount power strips on the wall, bind cords together to limit their sprawl and label each plug to help you in the future.
14) CHECK THE RECALL LIST: Go around the home and write down the brand and model number of all your appliances and then search recalls.gov for any of them that may be on the list. Aside from assuring a safer home, you may even get a new appliance out of the deal!
15) SEAL THAT TEAR: Got a hole in a window screen? That little gap is the perfect size to invite in a whole army of mosquitoes. Sealing it up is remarkably simple, though! Buy some clear nail polish and apply on both sides of the torn screen. Slather it on thickly from both sides and soon the hole will seal itself.
16) GUTTER GUARDS: Cleaning out a gutter that’s full of slimy leaves and stagnant water is certainly no fun. Installing gutter guards is sure to make your life easier in the years to come. These screens keep leaves and debris out while letting water drain inside. Installation is simple enough, too. Typically, you only need a power screwdriver and the guards themselves.
17) FILTER FUNDS: Pull out the filters in your furnace and your air conditioner and record the part number of the filters. The next time you’re at the home improvement store, buy a box of the filters rather than one or two. Filters for both of these appliances need to be changed about every four weeks during the peak of their seasons, and doing so saves you in the long run since these appliances work harder when their filters are dirty. The more they work, the more they cost you in electricity bills.
18) HELP WITH STRIPPED SCREWS: If you have a hard time with screws – whether you strip the heads off or just can’t seem to drive them all the way – try spreading a little wax on the threads before beginning your work. This extra bit of lubrication helps them move easier, meaning you can drive them deeper and without stripping the head.
19) VENT HOOD CLEANING: Your stove’s range hood vent pulls greasy smoke and air away from your cooking surfaces and through a filter to keep your air clean. The process, however, often leaves your filter full of grease that can attract pests. Clean the filter with the water-based degreaser you can buy at an auto parts store. Fill a bucket with the degreaser and let the filter soak for a few minutes before rinsing it clean.
20) LET THEM WEEP: If you have newer windows on your home, then they probably have weep holes built into them. These holes, set at the bottom of your window frame, allow excess moisture to trickle out of the window frame. Without the weep holes, water would collect inside and warp the window frame and damage your structure. At least once a year, you should take a cup of water and pour it through the hole – if it drains immediately, no problem. If the water lingers, the weep hole is clogged and you should use a pipe cleaner to loosen up the accumulated debris.
21) RUN, RODENT, RUN: If you have a basement, cellar or garage that seems to attract rodents, drive them out the easy way with a Victor® Pest Chaser – all you have to do is plug it in for immediate activation. These ultrasonic devices generate a noise that is inaudible to humans and non-rodent pets, yet it drives mice, rats, and other rodents crazy, keeping them away from your household. It’s a simple solution to a problem that can get really bad if left unchecked!
22) PAINTING A RAILING OR BALUSTER: If you’ve ever taken the time to paint a railing, you know it can be tedious as you paint thin little posts endlessly. Little did you know that you’ve been doing it all wrong! Instead of using a paintbrush, you need a paint glove which you saturate with paint and then rub into the posts and their details. If you can’t find a paint glove, just put on some rubber gloves and dampen a clean cloth with the paint for the same effect. You’ll have your railing done in time for an afternoon movie!
23) PUSH WATER AWAY: Soggy basements are almost always a problem of misdirected water. Make sure your downspouts continue to push water away from your home by adding additional hoses or piping. You can adjust the grading outside to slope away from the home. Keeping your basement dry is the key to avoiding moisture loving bugs such as silverfish and termites.
24) ADD SHELF SPACE: The space between your clothes washer and the wall is a necessary evil – the washer needs hookups for water coming in and out of the appliance. The problem is that things keep on falling behind it – including socks and big jugs of detergent, and who wants to try to fish them out or, at worst, clean up oozy, sticky detergent? Instead, install a shelf mounted on brackets over the gap to create extra storage space. Make it flush with the top of the washer and use that shelf to hold detergents and other supplies.
25) DETECTOR INSPECTOR: Check your smoke detector and your carbon monoxide detector every month by hitting the test button. Yep, that’s all you need to do – hit a button. If the detectors fail to respond, replace the batteries immediately. What? You don’t have a carbon monoxide detector? Then it’s time to get one! These two detectors are invaluable as they warn you about dangerous situations when seconds count. The best place for a carbon monoxide alarm, by the way, is near sleeping areas.
Your Ideas for Lazy Homeowners
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