Fight winter blues with easy home repairs that’ll raise your spirits!
Accomplishments - big or small - are beneficial for a healthy mind-set. There are plenty of easy, quick home repair chores you can do when you’re feeling bluesy in the thick of winter.
For efficiency, make a to-do list ahead of time and shop for all the tools and supplies in one trip. Focus on one room at a time, checking off completed tasks as you go.
What to Look and Listen For
In each room, look around and take stock of what needs fixing or improving. Focus on small, quick changes, not major redos. Here are some ideas:
Loose handles or hinges on furniture, cabinets, and doors. You can probably fix these with a few turns of a screwdriver. But if a screw just spins in place, try switching to a larger screw.
Sagging towel rack or wobbly toilet paper holder. Unscrew the fixture and look for the culprit. It’s probably a wimpy, push-in type plastic drywall anchor. Replace it with something more substantial. Toggle bolts are strongest, and threaded types such as E-Z Ancor are easy to install.
Squeaky door hinges. Apply some sort of lubricating oil. WD-40, cooking spray, or olive oil should work.
Creaky floor boards. Fasten them down. Anti-squeak repair kits, such as Squeeeeek No More, feature specially designed screws that are easy to conceal. A low-cost alternative: Dust a little cornstarch into the seam where floorboards meet - it acts as a lubricant to quiet boards that rub against each other.
Rusty shutoff valves. Check under sinks and behind toilets for the shutoff valves on your water supply lines. These little-used valves may slowly rust over time, and might not work when you need to use them. Keep them operating by putting a little WD-40 on the handle shafts. Twist the handles back and forth to work the oil into the threads. If they won’t budge, give the oil a couple of hours to seep in, and try again.
Blistered paint on shower ceilings. This area gets a lot of heat and moisture that stresses paint. Scrape off old paint and recoat, using a high-quality exterior-grade paint. Also, be sure everyone uses the bathroom vent when showering to help get rid of excess moisture.
Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. If you don’t like the chirping sound of smoke detector batteries as they wear down, do what many fire departments recommend and simply replace all of them at the same time once a year.
Clothes dryer vent. These vents are the the leading cause of house fires, due to clogged dryer lint. 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 machine. Also, wipe lint off of the dryer vent that's outside, so the flap opens and closes easily.
Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. You’re supposed to test them once a month, but who does? Now’s a great time. You’ll find them around potentially wet areas - building codes specify GFCI outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, and outside of the house. Make sure the device trips and resets correctly. If you find a faulty outlet or do not have a GFCI protected outlet in these areas, replace it or get an electrician to do it for $80 -$100.
Exhaust filter for the kitchen stove. Washing your exhaust vent to remove grease will increase the efficiency, and if a kitchen stovetop fire breaks out, this will help keep the flames from spreading.
Drain hoses. Inspect your clothes washer, dishwasher, and icemaker. If you see any cracks or drips, replace the hose so you don’t come home to a flood one day.
Electrical cords. Replace any that are brittle, cracked, or have damaged plugs. Eliminate the use of extension cords as much as possible.