12 Easy Home Hacks
I decided to write this post after my dishwasher stopped working. When I ran it, it would run, but it wouldn’t spray any water, so it wasn’t actually doing anything. This article will give you a bunch of easy home hacks that can save you a lot of time and effort.
As a home inspector, I’ve seen plenty of DIY home hacks and fails. Many of them are bad, and I would report them during a home inspection. The ones I’ve listed here won’t cause problems during a home inspection.
1. Clean your Dishwasher
It seems that a machine designed to clean stuff shouldn’t need to be cleaned. Unfortunately, the dishwasher doesn’t always clean itself, so you may have to do some dirty work.
This trick is what fixed my dishwasher when it stopped working. This obviously won’t fix it when it’s actually broken, but doing this on occassion may save you from calling a plumber and can extend the life of the machine.
The real trick here is to clean out the drain in the bottom. This is in a different spot on each dishwasher, but it’s always on the bottom. It may have a screen or mesh covering on it.
If there’s a cover, remove it and wash it by hand, since it’s probably covered in years of accumulated gunk. You should also pour some drain cleaner down the drain. you want to remove the accumulated grime and grease that has stuck in there.
At this point, it should be good to go. Run it on empty once with dish detergent (not soap!!!) and then you can run it with dishes again. If yours is like mine, it will work better now than before it stopped working in the first place.
2. Remove the Dryer Lint
The dryer lint screen is often out of sight and out of mind, but it’s important to remove the lint every time you run the dryer. Removing the lint will help the machine to run better, faster, and more efficiently.
Additionally, the dryer lint poses a fire hazard. As a child, every time I wanted to light a fire in the fireplace, I would use dryer lint, since it burned so well. It’s best not to have it accumulate in the dryer.
3. Fill up your Freezer
Freezers don’t like to cool large volumes of air. Most freezers run optimally when the freezer is two-thirds or more full. This will improve efficiency, which can extend the appliance life.
In order to keep your freezer happy, fill up a couple of gallon jugs and leave them in there. Once the water in the jugs is frozen it’s much easier for the freezer to keep them cold than to keep the air cold.
4. Clean your Stove Fan's Filter
If your stove has a draft hood or fan, the filter can get dirty and gross. This is bad, since the fan is responsible for removing smoke and cooking gases. In a worst-case scenario, if the vent fan isn’t working, it can lead to the production of carbon monoxide. This problem is easy to solve.
Remove the filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions. With most filters, they can be run on the top shelf of the dishwasher. This will get them nicely clean. Once it’s dry, simply put it back on and it’s good to go.
5. Clean up Mold
If you live in a damp climate, like Oregon, you may find mold in many parts of the house. Where I live, it’s not a question of whether a house has mold, it’s what kind of molds the house has.
Most molds can be killed with vinegar. The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid, which can kill 82% of modern household molds, including black mold (the bad kind).
For cleaning mold, use distilled white vinegar, since it’s just acetic acid and water. If it’s regular 5% acidity vinegar, don’t dilute it. You may need to let the vinegar sit on the mold to soak, so you can spray the spots or let a cloth with vinegar sit on the spots.
If vinegar doesn’t work, you can use hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide will kill basically everything, including mold. Use the same method as you would use for vinegar.
6. Get rid of Grease Stains
Grease stains are notoriously difficult to remove, and if something like the carpet gets stained, it may seem like a lost cause. The reason that you may struggle to remove grease stains is that they need an alkaline solution to dissolve.
For cleaning most grease stains, use baking soda. Baking soda is strongly alkaline and can annihilate many grease stains.
In particular, if you accidentally spill something greasy onto the carpet, immediately sprinkle it liberally with baking soda, and let it sit for half and hour to an hour, then vacuum it up.
While this might completely get rid of fresh grease stains, older stains will be much harder to remove.
7. Remove a Broken Lightbulb
Broken lightbulbs can be a pain to remove. Once the bulb is missing, what do you grab to turn the bulb? A potato.
No joke. Cut off the end of the potato and push the potato firmly against the broken bulb stem, then turn counterclockwise this should unscrew the bulb.
Here’s a video I found of someone demonstrating the technique:
8. Avoid Denting your Walls
When hammering nails into drywall, it’s infuriating to miss the nail and dent the wall. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to reduce the likelihood of this happening.
Cut a hole into a tupperware lid. Place the lid against the wall with the tupperware lips facing the wall. Nail through the hole in the center.
This way when you miss the nail, you’re less likely to dent the wall. Of course, if you’re hammering too vigorously you’ll still dent the wall.
9. Re-seal your Deck
Unfortunately there’s not a trick to this one. In order to make your deck last, you need to repaint it every year or so. Otherwise the deck won’t last as long.
First, clean it with a deck wash or some other cleaning solution which won’t damage the paint that’s already on there. This is to remove any mildew and to clean it so that the next coat of paint will stick.
Depending on how badly the deck needs it, either spot paint the cracks and chips, or repaint the whole deck.
10. Repaint your Steps
If you have concrete steps and they’re in need of repainting (assuming yours are painted, this isn’t relevant for steps which don’t need to be painted), mix in a handful of sand into the paint when you repaint them.
This will give you some nice extra traction on the steps, as painted steps can mildew when they get wet, which can lead to them being very slippery. Don’t do this on wood, since it can damage the wood beneath the paint.
11. Stop Fans from Wobbling
A wobbling fan isn’t just unsightly, it can damage the fan over time. Eventually the fan won’t work anymore, then it has to be replaced. The solution to this problem is to stop the wobble early on.
Try taping a penny to the top of one blade of the wobbling fan. Experiment with which blade the penny is attached to until one of them eliminates the wobble.
If taping a penny to one blade doesn’t work, then the problem isn’t just an unbalanced fan, and may eventually require more extensive repair.
Additionally, ceiling fans should be cleaned regularly. Just dusting the blades on occasion can go a long way toward prolonging the life of the fan and preventing problems, such as wobbling.
12. Remove Sediment from the Water Heater
Water heaters are prone to sediment buildup in the bottom. This problem can be particularly pronounced in areas with hard water.
To help with this, shut off the hot water heater. After the water has cooled (which may take several hours), drain a couple of gallons from the valve at the bottom, until not much sediment comes out.
There are two things to be cautious of when doing this:
- Don’t drain it when the water is still hot. It can burn people or melt plastic, since it can be near boiling.
- Don’t use the TPR valve at the top. It won’t work for this function, and will leak once used.
These Home Hacks Work
While these home hacks aren’t magic, they do get the job done. Some of these (like the dishwasher one) can save you plenty of money.
Final warning: don’t make home hacks too much of a lifestyle. While these are simple tricks, sometimes the best way is the slow way, and it isn’t always best to try to fix everything yourself.
Good luck! I hope these tips help you out.