Home improvement/maintenance tips
November 11, 2005 6:45 AM   Subscribe

What are some usual (or unusual) home maintenance things/tips/hints that you do/use/follow periodically? Anybody have a link to a good list of these?

Examples of what I'm thinking of are things like draining some water from a water heater to prevent sediment, popping all the breakers once a year (when changing clocks) to keep them 'loose', etc. Little things that are good ideas to do periodically, but aren't usually thought about.
posted by gwenzel to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
For some reason I didn't know about the baking-soda/vinegar "volcano" method of clearing drains until recently, but it definitely works.

To quote this site:

"Use 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup salt followed by 1 cup vinegar and cover until fizzing stops, (about 15 minutes) then flush with boiling water. A weekly dose of boiling water poured down the drain will help prevent clogging."

I don't use the salt. Makes the shower drain happy. No plumber + no nasty chemicals = the good.
posted by selfnoise at 6:52 AM on November 11, 2005

Replace furnace filters (yearly).
Replace fire alarm batteries (twice yearly).
Make sure flapper on toilet has a good seal (will let extra water in otherwise)
Wipe out inside of faucet handles to avoid rust (and use rust remover on actual rust).
Caulk leaks near windows. On a windy day, feel for drafts or look for piles of dust to find these leaks.

Did find this list, but it's not as much "little" things that one needs to remember to do, as "bigger" things that you rotate through on an undefined basis.
posted by artifarce at 7:01 AM on November 11, 2005

Bleed radiators at start of heating season, check periodically through winter.
posted by sagwalla at 7:53 AM on November 11, 2005

Examine your weatherstripping on windows and doors. Look for cracks, loose parts, or missing bits and replace as necessary.

Once every year or two, remove the heat vents and stick your vacuum hose in there to remove any dust build-up.

Thrice a year vacuum the coils under your refrigerator.

Once a year run your dishwasher and washing machine empty with vinegar to sanitize and remove any mineral deposits.

Once a year put some vinegar in your toilet tank to sanitize and put some CLR in your toilet bowl to prevent mineral deposit buildup. Don't mix these!

Clean your gutters and make sure the downspouts are free-flowing.

Aerate your lawn in the spring.

While your draining sediment from your water heater, give the pressure release valve a pull to make sure it isn't stuck.

Check your dryer vent to make sure there isn't significant lint buildup. Do this while the dryer is running so you can check for air flow. Then put up a clothesline and save yourself the wear on your clothes and your energy bill.

Once a year, check your attic/crawl-space for leaks, bugs, rodents, bats, rot or anything else out of place. While you're up there, make sure you have at least 14" of insulation.

Twice a year open your computer case and carefully vacuum out the dust bunnies.

Once a year walk around your house to examine your foundation. Look for termite tunnels, evidence of lots of water, rot, animal activity. Keep at least a 6" space between your house and anything in the yard. Especially in the fall as animals and bugs seek warmer spots!
posted by kc0dxh at 8:10 AM on November 11, 2005

Along with some of the above stuff I also:
-give the exhaust fan over the stove a thorough cleaning a few times a year
-vacuum the heating registers and vents
-oil garage door and door hinges twice a year

I never knew about the draing of the water heater. I've lived in this huse for 7 years and have never done that. And I change the furnace fileters every other month
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:17 AM on November 11, 2005

This list is aimed at owners of apartment communities. But let's face it, a building is a building, and some guy trying to protect his multi-million dollar investment is doing many things you should be doing too.

BTW, I've never heard of the "keeping breakers loose" thing. A little research shows that your tip is to keep dust from accumulating on breakers (which might interfere if the breaker trips). It seems to me that keeping the breaker box closed will have much the same effect.
posted by ilsa at 8:19 AM on November 11, 2005

Response by poster: I heard the breaker tip from Jon Eakes - Here's the link. It struck me as being pretty easy to do in spring and fall when changing the clocks, and it certainly couldn't hurt.

Please keep the tips coming - I've learned plenty already!
posted by gwenzel at 8:40 AM on November 11, 2005

Boiling water kills weeds.

Also vinegar. But water's cheap.
posted by cribcage at 9:08 AM on November 11, 2005

I suppose furnaces vary, but with at least some, you don't have to replace the filter, you can just wash it.

The hydro company in Toronto goes door to door doing small home improvments for free to make houes more efficient: changing shower heads, insulating pipes, adding aerators to faucets, etc. etc. One of the things they did at my parents house is attach a tiny alarm the furnace filter. When the filter gets dirty the alarm starts beeping. You take off the alarm, wash the filter, put the alarm back on and put the filter back. Presto...cheaper and more environmentally friendly than replacying the filter.
posted by duck at 1:13 PM on November 11, 2005

popping all the breakers once a year (when changing clocks) to keep them 'loose',

WTF? This is nonsense.

I would seriously recommend changing one's furnace filter a lot more than once per year. More like every 90 days, particularly if your forced air heating system is also your air conditioning system.

If you have angle stops (shut off valves) at every plumbing fixture - and you should - close them once in a while so that they'll work when you need them.
posted by fixedgear at 3:13 PM on November 11, 2005

I change furnace filters every month--and it always needs changing.

If you have hard water, wrap your shower head in a plastic bag filled with vinegar, leave overnight, and be amazed at the improved flow.
posted by wordswinker at 3:18 PM on November 11, 2005

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