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Basic home maintenance everyone should know

Man's arms are seen replacing furnace filter on HVAC furnace system

There are a few basic home maintenance skills everyone should have. Knowing what to do will help you maintain your home and keep it safe.

Test a smoke detector

A smoke detector is one of the most important safety features in your home and is easy to test. Press the test button and if the alarm goes off, your smoke detector is working. You can also light incense or a candle, wait for some smoke, and put it under the detector to make sure the alarm goes off. Do not put the object close enough for the heat to damage the smoke detector. Now is also a good time to make sure you have a fire extinguisher in an accessible location.

Test a carbon monoxide detector

Hold down the test button until a loud, high pitched beeping noise is emitted. If it makes noise it is working. You can also buy a carbon monoxide detector test kit, just make sure to follow the instructions.

Turn off the gas line

Find the gas meter and then its shutoff valve, which is generally on a pipe going into the meter. Turning the valve to a horizontal position from a vertical position should stop gas flow.

Turn off your water

Find the main shutoff valve where the water line enters the house. Turn it clockwise to tighten it and shut the water off.

Clean gutters

Clogged gutters can lead to water damage to the outside of your house. If it is accessible, it may be possible to do by yourself. All you need is a ladder, a friend to spot you, and some gloves for scooping out the debris.

Apply weather stripping

Adhesive weather stripping is easy to cut and apply around windows and doors and will decrease heat loss.

Caulk windows

If your windows are drafty, clean around the gaps, put down painter’s tape, pipe caulk into the gap, and smooth it with a caulking tool or soft cloth. You can use the same process for a bathtub, just scrape out the old caulk first.

Make water stains go away

Before you paint over water stains on your ceiling from leaks upstairs, spray a 10% bleach to water mix on them. This will reduce the stains and make them easier to cover with paint.

Unclog a sink

Using a snake to pull out a clog will usually work, and a plunger will loosen anything that is left. If that does not work, you can take the trap under the sink off and empty it. These steps will get rid of most clogs but if the clog is further down the line then you should call a plumber.

Unclog a toilet

Like with a sink, try snaking and plunging and if the clog is too far down the line you will need a plumber.

Replace a light fixture

Turn off the power, unscrew the current fixture, attach the wires of the new light fixture to the wires that were attached to the old fixture. Then screw the new one into place, and make sure it works.

Change a furnace filter

Check the old filter to see what kind it is and buy a new one. Turn the furnace off, slide the old one out and replace it.

Fix a leak or replace a faucet

Turn the water valve off under the sink and put a towel in the drain so you do not lose any parts. Disassemble the handle, take the stem apart, and put the parts in the counter in the order they came off so you know how to put them back. Check parts for damage and replace damaged ones with new ones. Whether you are installing a new faucet or putting the old one back, put the parts on in the opposite order of how you took the old faucet apart.

Clean grout

Mix hot water with vinegar and apply to your bathroom tiles. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then scrub the dirt off with a soft toothbrush.