Quarantine may not be ideal, but it’s a great opportunity for home maintenance. Here are 7 simple and straightforward projects you can tackle to keep your home is excellent shape (and keep you busy) during social distancing times.
Flush Your Water Heater
Regularly flushing your water heater can prevent sediment build-up. If left unchecked, this can lead to expensive repairs or even require a water heater replacement. To flush your water heater, first, turn off the cold-water supply in your home and turn off your water heater’s thermostat. Next, connect a hose to your heater’s drain valve and place the other end of the hose outside. Turn on all hot water faucets and open your heater’s drain valve for fast draining. Once the tank is fully emptied, turn your cold water on. Leave your hot water faucets on until water flows from them again. Once it does, reset your water heater thermostat to your chosen setting.
Test Your Sump Pump
Situated at the lowest point of your home, your sump pump is responsible for pulling water from the surrounding soil to save your property from damage. In most areas, sump pumps only need to turn on a few times a year (usually during heavy precipitation) to do their job—but it’s important that they work when the time comes. To test your sump pump, first inspect the pump and its outlet pipe to make sure nothing is broken or disconnected. Next, make sure that the sump pump is plugged into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (doing so prevents it from short-circuiting). You should also unplug it and plug it back in to make sure it turns on immediately. Finally, pour a 5-gallon bucket of water into your sump pit to make sure it turns on automatically. Clean any excessive buildup or trapped debris, and you’re good to go.
Remove Your Showerheads and Clean Away Sediment
Has the water pressure from your shower reduced recently? Perhaps it’s just gradually reduced over time. Before you go calling your utility provider or opening up your pipes, there’s a simple fix you should try. Clean your showerhead. Over time, trace sediment in the water supply can build up in a showerhead, partially blocking its openings and leading to reduced water flow that can be perceived as reduced pressure.
To see if your showerhead is the culprit behind your “pressure” problem, remove it from your shower for cleaning and inspection. Start by brushing off the face of your showerhead with a cleaning brush. You can also use an old toothbrush. Next, rinse it off with a strong blast of water. From there, return to the holes on the face of your showerhead and clear out remaining clogs with a toothpick. Finally, we recommend soaking your showerhead in vinegar overnight to dissolve any remaining deposits. Add a scoop of baking soda to help break down buildup further. Be sure to rinse your showerhead before reinstalling it.
Inspect Your Crawl Space for Water
Small leaks, excessive humidity, and household accidents can put water in places where it should never go. One of those places is your crawlspace. Water buildup in a crawlspace is both a structural and safety risk. It can break down the materials in your home while harboring harmful bacteria. Armed with a mask and flashlight, open up your crawlspace and check for traces of water. If you find any, remove it using a wet vacuum or sump pump. It’s also a good idea to run a dehumidifier in your crawlspace for several days to remove any trace humidity and humidity-borne organisms (such as mold and fungus).
Check Your Bathtub and Toilet Seals for Cracks
Look closely where your bathtub and toilet meet the wall and ground. These areas are likely sealed with caulk and are meant to prevent water and soap scum from building up. Give these areas a good once-over to make sure that caulk sealing is still in place. If you notice cracks or gaps, take care of them with a small addition of caulk where necessary.
Keep Your Kitchen Drains Clear With Boiling Water
Even with the high-powered garbage disposal, the drain in your kitchen sink can still get clogged. Before spending any money on drain cleaners, try this simple method to rinse your drain effectively. First, fill up a pot of water and set it on your stovetop to boil. Next, squirt a generous amount of dish soap down your drain. Finally, slowly pour the boiling water down your drain to clear away debris and buildup. (Pro tip: always use cold water with your garbage disposal to keep items in a solid-state.)
Inspect and Clean Your Gutters
Gutters keep rainwater and snow runoff from collecting on your roof. When gutters are clogged, that water has nowhere to go. This can lead to standing water, which is bad news for your building over time. Prevent this problem from happening by cleaning your gutters. Get a ladder, a pair of gloves, and a rake for cleanup. (If you’re confident, you can also use a leaf blower to clear your gutters of debris.) While you’re up there, take a look at your gutters to inspect them for leaks or other structural issues that may need to be repaired.
When in Doubt, Call a Professional
Sometimes, smaller projects reveal the need for bigger ones. While some of these bigger ones can be tackled solo, many of them require the help of a professional. Thankfully, a large number of home services providers have stayed open during quarantine. Find a local plumber and schedule a consultation for any projects you’d rather not tackle yourself.