Sunday, August 21, 2016

7 Cheap Homeowner Hacks to Keep You Safe, Clean, Efficient, and Happy

As almost any homeowner knows, finding shortcuts, cheats, hacks, or any other way to complete projects more efficiently is always welcome. Many times I hear about something that is so simple that I’m shocked I never thought of it. As I have been working on projects here and there, I have pulled together some of the hacks that I use. So here are seven home hacks to keep you safe, clean, efficient, and happy.
  1. Use long screws for safety and stability. Door hinges and latch plates (the part that secures the door) come with short screws. Over time, these screws can become loose, mainly because they sit in less than 3/4-inch inch of wood. Pull out one screw from each door hinge, and replace it with a 2” or 3” gold screw. These are the same color and head size of the shorter screws, but they give significantly more hold into the door frame. For the latch plate, replace both screws with 3” screws. This will keep the door more secure and help prevent the door from being knocked in.
  2. Bend your door pins to keep your doors from swinging. I hate when my doors move with a mind of their own. When I open a door, I want it to stay open. When I close it, I want it to stay closed. If you have a door that refuses to obey, pull one of the pins (the piece that holds the two hinge plates together). You may need pliers to pull it out. Using a concrete floor for leverage (please don’t damage your wood or tile floors), hold the pin top off the ground, with the other side of the pin on the ground, and smack it with a hammer in the middle. This should slightly bend the pin. Replace the pin (you may need to tap it in with a hammer), and test the door. If the door still isn’t cooperating, pull the pin and smack it again, giving it a slightly larger bend.
  3. Label your paint for easy touchups. Throughout the years, as I have painted various rooms, I often end up with paint colors that are similar. Using a Sharpie to label which room the paint belongs to helps keep everything organized. This will also be appreciated by the new homeowner if you ever move and leave paint behind.
  4. Use a piece of wire to keep your paint area clean. When using a can of paint with a brush, stretch a piece of wire across the top of the paint can, wrapping it around the wire handles. After dipping the brush,the wire can be used to scrape the excess paint off of the brush, keeping the edges of the can clean and paint free. Additionally, the wire can be used as a ledge for the brush, letting you use both hands to move your materials around.
  5. Get rid of ugly outlet covers AND keep your kids safe. I like keeping my kids protected from outlets, but I despise unsightly, plug-in outlet protectors. So when I was painting my kid’s room recently, I discovered something amazing – outlets with built in protectors. These come by way of little plastic covers inside of the outlet that prevent anything but a plug being inserted. They cost about $1 each and take about five minutes to install (please be sure to turn off your electrical circuit before working on the outlet).
  6. Use a cleat to hang heavy objects with ease. You can read more about what a cleat is and how it helps with heavy objects here. I used it when I made an organizer, and was able to hang the organizer perfectly level by myself. These are fantastic for mirrors, cabinets, large pictures, or anything else that is cumbersome and heavy.
  7. Outlet with built in protection
  8. One man’s trash… I don’t fancy myself as a person who digs in trash for treasures. But recently a school in my area was remodeling. Part of that remodel was replacing all of the fluorescent light fixtures with LED fixtures. So outside of the school were hundreds of three bulb fluorescent fixtures. After finding out that they were just throwing them all into the trash, I grabbed several of them. My previously dark garage with exposed bulbs now has three fluorescent fixtures with two to three bulbs each, with the total wattage being less than the previously installed incandescent bulbs. The total cost of this project was nothing, and the satisfaction with now having a well-lit work space is significant. Another school was remodeling, and the dumpster outside had many large pieces of lumber that were scrap for the project, but large enough for many of my home projects. Watch for major remodeling or construction projects, and see if there isn’t some scrap that you can use for home.

So which of these have you used or will you use? Do you have any hacks that you would like to share or add? I would love to hear from you.  

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