Want a happy (structurally sound) home? Stay on top of your maintenance list. Depending on your home’s age and stage, it’s just as likely you’ve got a to-do list a mile long. We asked experts to point out some important repairs that are quick and relatively easy to do yourself or outsource. Here are six projects to get started on today...
Chipped tile grout
You know there’s a problem if: Dirt keeps collecting in the damaged grout between tiles on your counter or floors.
Why you should care: Loose grout means moisture can settle in, which can nurture mold. “If you have tile countertops, the finish can become damaged if water gets between the sink and the surface,” says James Carey, author of Home Maintenance for Dummies.
The Fix: Remove the uppermost group layer and repair with new grout and sealer.
Dusty refrigerator coils
You know there’s a problem if: The fridge hums louder than usual.
Why you should care: Dusty coils make it harder for your fridge to keep food cool. “In working harder the fridge is likelier to break,” says John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada, a website that helps organize home repair projects.
The Fix: Vacuum between the coils, located at the back, top or bottom of the fridge, with a soft-brush vacuum cleaner.
Slowing water pressure
You know there’s a problem if: The water isn’t flowing as well as you remembered.
Why you should care: Corrosion or buildup inside the showerhead wears it out, requiring you to replace it faster than if it were to remain buildup-free.
The Fix: Mineral buildup may be the culprit. Remove the showerhead and soak it overnight in a plastic bag filled with distilled white vinegar, closing the bag with a rubber band. “After doing this the mineral buildup should break down,” says Sean Murphy, a DIY specialist at the online home improvement retailed Build.com. FYI: When you remove a showerhead, you break a watertight seal. Apply plumber’s tape to create another seal when you replace the showerhead.
A furnace that might be on the blink
You know there’s a problem if: The furnace makes weird noises, changes the color or pattern of the flame or you notice soot streaks around the furnace or rust on the flue pipes.
Why you should care: Your health may be at stake. A yellow flame could indicate the furnace is emitting deadly carbon monoxide. Even if not, a defective furnace costs more to run. “If your furnace has to work harder, you end up paying more for it,” Murphy says.
The Fix: Change your furnace filters regularly and have the entire unit inspected once a season for burner efficiency and cleanliness. FYI: The average lifespan of a furnace is 16 to 20 years.
Clothes dryer that leaves your clothes looking linty
You know there’s a problem if: Lint covers your clothes when you remove them from the dryer.
Why you should care: Lint trapped in the dryer line can cause a fire, says Stephen Fanuka, coauthor of What’s a Homeowner To Do?
The Fix: Clean the lint screen after every load of your dryer. Twice a year clean the vent line: the tube or duct that sends the air from the dryer to outside your house.
Creaky garage doors
You know there’s a problem if: The garage doors make very loud noises when used.
Why you should care: “The door springs last longer if you inspect and oil the doors at least once a year,” says Bodrozic.
The Fix: Check all the nuts and bolts on your garage door. Replace worn parts. Spray the moving components with garage door lubricant.