New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home
Easy tasks that will make you happier, healthier, and even wealthier!
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New year, better home
New Year’s resolutions have become a part of everyday life and cover a range of topics: working on your bucket list, learning how to budget and work on your finances, and finally, working on your home. From wanting a sparkling dishwasher to adding home alarms, these are the things to keep in mind when reviewing your home. Before you get started, you’ll want to know these home improvement hacks you’ll wish you knew sooner.
Prevent bathroom mold
No matter where you live, the high moisture level in your bathroom can cause mold and mildew. Eliminating bathroom dampness is the key to keeping mold from growing. To do that, follow these steps:
First, after a bath or a shower, squeegee water off the shower walls. That eliminates at least three-fourths of the moisture that supports mold and mildew growth.
Second, run your bath fans during your bath or shower and for a half-hour after to flush out moisture. Or add a timer switch to make this step automatic.
Third, if you have tile, seal the grout lines annually with a standard grout sealer to waterproof them.
To get rid of the current mold, scrub with detergent and water, then let the surface dry completely. Or use a solution of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water (a stronger bleach solution will not give better results). Spray or brush on the solution, let it sit ten minutes, then rinse it off and let dry. If the fans aren’t clearing out most of the moisture in your bathrooms after five to ten minutes, your fans may not be moving enough air. Fans are certified by the volume (cfm, or cubic feet per minute) of air “exhausted” out of the room. To find the recommended fan capacity for your bathroom, simply multiply the bathroom square footage by 1.1 (assuming an 8-ft. ceiling; for a 9-ft. ceiling, multiply by 1.5). Check out some more cleaning solutions to get mildew out of any surface.
Restore free flow to your showerhead
If the flow from your showerhead is growing weaker, the cause is probably mineral buildup. Many manufacturers recommend that you remove the showerhead and soak it in a half-and-half mixture of warm water and vinegar (any type). But there’s really no need to remove the head. Just pour the mix into a heavy-duty plastic bag and attach it to the shower arm with a rubber band. The acid in the vinegar dissolves minerals, but prolonged contact can harm some plastics and metal finishes, so remove the bag every 15 minutes and check the shower flow. Here’s a list of things you should never store in your bathroom.
Clean out dryer lint
If you notice that it takes longer than normal for loads to dry in your clothes dryer, it may be time to clean out the vent. First detach the duct from behind the unit and then push a plumbing snake through your dryer vent from outside. Tie a rag securely to the snake end. Pull the cloth and snake through a couple of times and your clean vent will not only save energy but possibly prevent a fire as well. If you discover that your dryer vent cover needs repair, this is how to fix it, and this video shows you how to replace the vent if it’s in bad shape. Here are things that should never end up in your dryer.
Add a cup of vinegar to your empty dishwasher and let it run a full cycle once a month or so. Your kitchen may smell a bit like a pickle jar for a few hours, but hard-water lime buildup will be rinsed away, making your spray arm and other dishwasher parts work flawlessly. Make sure you know the ways you’re shortening the life of your dishwasher.
Check your gutters
A 1,000-sq.-ft. roof will shed about 620 gallons of water during a 1-in. rainfall, or about 103 gallons per downspout if you have six downspouts. That’s a lot of water dumped right next to your basement. Although it may seem obvious, clean and properly functioning gutters with downspouts that empty away from the foundation are key to avoiding major and expensive home repairs.
So before you leave for a vacation, take a walk around the house and check your gutters. Check to see if leaves, sticks, or other debris are blocking the inlet of the downspout and preventing water from flowing down the spout. Also make sure your downspout extensions are discharging the water far enough from the foundation and that you always reattach them after you mow your lawn. Here are things you should never do to your lawn.
Avoid a scalding by setting your water heater to 120 degrees
Plain old tap water can be dangerous. Water heaters set too high send thousands (mostly children) to hospitals each year with burns. Most safety experts recommend a setting of 120 degrees F. But finding that setting on the dial isn’t easy—most dials aren’t labeled with numbers.
If the stickers on the water heater don’t tell you how to set the temperature and you can’t find the owner’s manual, use this method: Run hot water at the tap closest to the water heater for at least three minutes. Then fill a glass and check the temperature. If the water is above 120 degrees, adjust the dial, wait about three hours, and check again. Repeat until you get 120-degree water. For a final test, check the temperature the following morning, before anyone uses hot water. In the new year, you should also make sure that these 15 hidden home dangers aren’t a problem in your home.
Test your sump pump
Sump pump systems help keep groundwater out of your basement. Before a vacation, test your sump pump by filling the sump pit with water and making sure the pump is actually pumping out the water.
If it doesn’t, be sure the sump pump is plugged in (a surprisingly common oversight) and check the breaker as well. Also make sure the outlet pipe isn’t frozen or clogged and that it directs water away from your home. Clean the hole in the discharge line and check that the motor is running smoothly. Also consider adding a backup battery to your sump pump so that it functions during power outages, which seem to go hand-in-hand with heavy rainstorms.
Scum-proof your shower doors
Keeping shower doors clean and streak-free is a challenge—unless you know the pros’ secrets. Start by cleaning any mold, mildew, or streaks off the glass with a glass cleaner. Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get into the cracks in textured glass. Scrape off tough buildup with a razor blade. Dry the doors with a cloth.
To prevent soap scum buildup, stop using real soap and start using a synthetic. Chemically speaking, any soap in liquid or gel form is actually synthetic soap and much less likely to leave a tough film in your sink, shower, or tub. In a rush to clean your bathroom for guests? Here’s how to clean your bathroom in under ten minutes.
Seal a drafty window
Weather stripping often becomes loose, worn, or distorted when the sash drags or when the strip gets sticky and attaches itself to the frame, then pulls loose when the sash is opened. Windows have weather strip on the sash, frame, or both. Regardless of its location, the steps for removing and replacing it are the same. Weather stripping is available from your window manufacturer or online. The window brand and glass manufacturer date are etched in the corner of the glass or in the aluminum spacer between the glass panes. You’ll also need the height and width of your sash (take these measurements yourself).
If the weather strip is in good shape and loose in only a few places, like the corners, apply a dab of polyurethane sealant to the groove and press the weather strip into place. Otherwise, replace the entire weather strip. First remove the sash and set it on a work surface so you can access all four sides. If the weather strip is one continuous piece, cut it apart at the corners with a utility knife.
Starting at a corner, pull the weather strip loose from the sash. If the spline tears off and remains stuck in the groove, make a hook from stiff wire to dig it out.
Work the new weather strip into the groove, starting at a corner. You’ll hear it click as the strip slides into the groove.