The 18 Home Care Tips You Need in Your Life to Save You Time, Money, and Stress

These simple tips will help you solve common problems, keep you from having to call a technician, and prevent costly and frustrating mistakes.

Previous
1/18 View as List
Next

The Best Furnace Advice: Change the Filter

The Family Handyman
Clogged air filters are usually to blame when a furnace stops working. Dirty air filters are also hard on blower motors and heat exchangers, so it’s a good idea to replace your air filter before there’s a problem. It can be hard to remember to check it regularly. That’s where an air filter gauge can help; it eliminates guesswork by measuring airflow and telling you exactly when it’s time to change your air filter. Here are 10 home maintenance tasks you definitely don't want to forget.

Check the Thermostat

The Family Handyman
Be sure your thermostat is set to “heat” and at a temperature higher than the temperature inside the house. Thermostat still not working? Here's how to adjust it. Plus, did you know your thermostat can help you lose weight?

Check the Power

The Family Handyman
Make sure the power is on! The power switch for your furnace looks like a regular light switch and can get bumped and turned off accidentally. If the switch is off, just flip it back on. See more simple furnace fixes you can DIY.

Starting Up the AC

The Family Handyman
On the first hot day in spring or summer, what will you do if you turn on the A/C and it doesn't work? Don't make the mistake of calling a service technician before you check this common oversight. Move the thermostat mode switch from "Cooling" to "Off" and move the fan switch from "Auto" to "On." Let the blower run for at least 30 minutes or until there's good airflow at the registers. Then turn the A/C back on to test it. If it keeps working, you've fixed the problem yourself! For more DIY A/C repair help, check out our complete guide. Here are some ways to lower your A/C bill while still staying cool.

Glossy Paint on a Bad Surface

The Family Handyman
You may love the look of high-gloss paint, but if you apply a glossy paint to surfaces that aren't perfect, the paint will accentuate the problems. Light reflecting off the shiny paint will highlight every defect. So if you want to paint with a semigloss or gloss sheen, make sure the surface you're painting is carefully prepared and perfectly smooth. Here's how to fix the eight most common interior wall flaws. And here's how to prepare wood trim for painting.

Paint the Ceiling Without Wearing a Hat

The Family Handyman
When you roll paint on a ceiling, little splatters of paint go everywhere and many will land on your head. Wear an old hat and expect it to be covered with paint specks when the job is done. Take it from a pro, here's how to successfully paint a ceiling. Plus, you don't have to paint your ceiling white—here are some nontraditional suggestions for a luxurious ceiling.

Making Rookie Mistakes

The Family Handyman
Two common first-time painting mistakes:

1. Leaving the lid off of the paint can. The most obvious problem with this bad habit is that someone is bound to step on the lid and track paint all over. But there are other reasons to put the lid back on immediately. It'll keep your paint clean and prevent dried-out paint crud from forming in the can or on the lid. Plus, you're less likely to get the lids from two similar colors mixed up, which can cause hassles later. Learn which paint color can add thousands of dollars in value to your home.

2. Forgetting to lock out pets. Here's what can and does happen—you step out of the room you're painting and pretty soon your dog is in there sniffing around. He grabs the paintbrush handle in his mouth and carries it, dripping, across the house to give it back to you, leaving painted paw prints in his path. Avoid all pet-related painting problems by keeping your pets locked away from the project at all times.

Fertilize at the Wrong Time of Year

The Family Handyman
If you fertilize your lawn only when you think it needs it, when you have time or when fertilizer is on sale, you may be wasting time and money. Fertilizers need to be applied at certain times during the growing season. For more on when and how to fertilize your lawn, check out these pro tips. Plus, check out our guide to using non-toxic fertilizers.

Ice Avalanche

Home-Care-TipsThe Family Handyman
When you clean your refrigerator and freezer before leaving for a period of time, be sure to replace the ice tray. If you don't, the icemaker doesn't get the signal that the tray is full, so it keeps making ice until the freezer is full! The next time you open the door, watch out! Also, some icemakers have a lever you can lift to make sure no ice is made while you're away. If your icemaker needs replacing, you can do it yourself. Plus, here are some little-known uses for ice cubes.

Open and Shut Case

The Family Handyman
If your gas clothes dryer isn't getting your clothes dry, the culprit is often a lint-clogged vent. Use a vacuum and/or a brush to clean out the lint and the dryer should work fine, unless you accidentally shut off the gas valve. Service technicians see this all the time. Someone gets in there and cleans out all of the lint, pushes the gas valve closed without knowing it and ends up calling a technician. All they have to do is reach in and turn on the valve, and charge you for the service call. This guide to clothes dryer repairs helps you fix most problems yourself. Plus, here's the real reason your clothes shrink in the wash, and how to get it to stop.

Previous
1/18 View as List
Next

Become more interesting every week!

The Reader's Digest "Read Up" Newsletter

We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.