You don’t have to spend a lot of time and effort to keep your house in top condition. Some of the best improvement projects don’t require pulling permits or hiring pros. We’ve put together a list of the smartest, but smallest, DIYs you can take on to boost your home’s potential and your quality of life.
If you thought the only time to replace your weatherstripping was right before winter to keep out frosty drafts, think again. It’s also vital to check and replace worn weatherstripping before summer arrives. With drafts blocked, your rooms will be more comfortable, you’ll save on air conditioning costs, and you’ll keep unwanted bugs from sneaking in through gaps.
Add Window Well Covers
If your window well fills with water every time it rains, install a water-shedding window well cover to keep out the downpour and reduce the risk of leaks in your basement. Egress window wells are designed to drain into your home’s drain tile system, but over time, they can become clogged. By installing window well covers, you’ll protect your basement from water and you’ll also keep out leaves, debris, and the occasional toad that hops in by accident.
Install Downspout Extensions
Water and foundations don’t mix. When water pools around the foundation, say, from roof and gutter runoff, it can seep downward and leak through basement walls. Saturation causes some types of soil to swell, putting unwanted lateral pressure on foundation walls and increasing the risk of cracking. To minimize the amount of water that collects around your home, consider adding downspout extensions. They are simple to install and will direct rain runoff away from your foundation where it won’t cause structural problems.
Install Frost-Proof Exterior Faucets
It happens to many unlucky homeowners every year. Forgetting to shut off the water supply to an exterior faucet before freezing weather arrives can result in pipe breakage and costly water damage repairs. All of that grief can be avoided by switching out standard exterior faucets for frost-free models that feature shut-off valves deep within the walls of your home where they’re less likely to freeze.
Prune Shrubs Near Your House
They might look pretty but branches from shrubs and bushes planted close to your home can scrape and damage valuable siding when the wind blows. Even your prized rose bush can cause abrasion damage to some types of siding in windy conditions. Check bushes and shrubs frequently during their growing season, and prune back any branches that come within a foot of your siding.
Treat Your Sewer Lines
A clogged sewer is messy and smelly, and can result in pricey plumber’s fees to repair. Protect your sewer, and your wallet, by using a main line sewer cleaning product (available from DIY stores) two or three times a year. The product works overnight to clear away any residue that’s beginning to settle in the lines, thereby protecting your home’s plumbing pipes from costly clogs.
Switch to LED Lightbulbs
Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs not only draw minimal energy, they last much longer than incandescent bulbs. Recent improvements in the color of the light emitted by LEDs makes them suitable for every room in the house. Blue-tone LEDs are great in the home office, and warm-tone LEDs, which flatter skin tone, are a better choice for the light fixture over the bathroom vanity.
Replace Furnace Filters
After the furnace has been switched on for a month or two, filters can clog with dust, making your home heating system less effective and making the air you breathe less fresh than it should be. Clogged furnace filters reduce airflow to the furnace, forcing its motor to work harder. A good rule is to replace the filters at the start of every new season to keep both indoor air quality—and your furnace—in top shape.
Seal Sidewalk Cracks
Not only are cracks in sidewalks and patios unsightly, they allow water to seep into the soil below the concrete. When the temperature drops, that trapped water can freeze and expand, pushing upward against the concrete and causing further damage. Protect your sidewalks by clearing debris from the cracks and then filling them with exterior concrete urethane caulk. Choose a gray-color sealant to closely match your existing concrete.
Install a Smart Thermostat
If you still have a manual thermostat, you’re wasting energy, and your home probably isn’t as comfortable as it could be. Smart thermostats use your home’s Wi-Fi to allow you to adjust the temperature from anywhere, using your smart phone. A smart thermostat can also “learn” your preferred temperature preferences for every day of the week and adjust your home temperature to suit. Quit wasting energy and get smart about your comfort!
Boost Entry Appeal
You don’t need to paint your whole house to give your home exterior a fresh look. Upgrade a dated front door knob by replacing it with a substantial lockset and handle. Add a fresh coat of high-quality exterior paint to a faded entry door, and position a couple of large flower pots on either side of the door for a fresh look. Replace rusty mailboxes and porch lights with new models to increase your home’s wow appeal. Your guests and neighbors will notice the difference.
Install a Ceiling Fan
Enhance your room’s decor and increase your comfort by replacing a plain ceiling light fixture with a ceiling fan and light combo. A ceiling fan provides gentle welcoming breezes on hot summer days and helps recirculate the heated air that settles near the ceiling during cold weather months. Winter or summer, you’ll be more comfortable, and you’ll save on cooling and heating costs.
Dim Your Lights
Bright lighting is nice when you’re preparing food, but it can be stark and annoying when you’re trying to relax and unwind after a long day at work. The solution? Install dimmer switches in place of your regular on/off light switches. You can adjust the light to just the right level of brightness and save energy at the same time. Just be sure to pair your new upgrade with dimmable light bulbs.
Open and Close Water Valves
It takes very little time—and it’s free—but it can prevent costly valve replacement down the road. Over time, water valves (those little on/off regulators) found under your sinks and behind the commode, can seize up due to scale buildup. Twice a year, twist the valves closed and back open. That’s all it takes for your valves to remain moveable and functional.
Clean Faucet Aerators
Tiny pebbles, debris and hard water deposits can clog faucet aerators, leaving you with slow-running water. Twice a year, or more frequently if the water is running slowly, twist off the aerators (on the ends of the spigots, sometimes tucked just inside the opening) and drop them in a small container filled with vinegar. Let them soak overnight to dissolve scale, then replace them to keep your water running effectively