If you are fully or partially responsible for the place that you live, whether that be a house you own, house you rent, apartment, townhouse, whatever, you know that there is always something to be done. Much of the time we are focused on big projects, things that can pay off big, cost big, and can take big chunks of time.
Today, let's focus on some small things that everybody should take a look at (well, some might not apply, but I think there are enough things here that everybody can get some benefit).
Consider one or two of these things to get done today, and look at all of them as things you can do that will only cost you a few minutes of time, and in many cases, won't even cost you a single penny.
- Change your furnace filter – You're supposed to change these things every month, unless you have a special one that either lasts longer or can even last forever (though they do require regular cleaning). If you haven't changed your filter in a while, it's probably time. The more clogged that filter gets, the harder the furnace has to work to push air through it, making your bills go up and diminishing the life of the very expensive appliance.
- Do a quick check under your sinks – Go to each sink, flip the water on, and take a peek under the sink. Hopefully the answer under all of your sinks is ‘nothing', which means everything is in good shape. But, you might find a few drips of water, either from the water lines or the drain lines. In either case, it's usually just a bit of tightening up to get rid of the leak, but those little drips can add up to ruined cabinets, mold, and a bigger leak down the road if you don't catch it before it gets out of hand.
- Polish your wood furniture – If you have a dining room table made of wood, think of the last time you put furniture polish on it. Doing so will protect it from drying out and will extend the life of your furniture. It will also give your wood table a nice shine, something you may have forgotten can actually be present!
- Clean and treat your leather furniture – When we bought our leather couches a few years ago, we bought a ‘Leather Protection' plan, meaning that if anything goes wrong with the leather, they'll repair it. On top of that, we get to go to the store and get free refills of leather cleaner and leather protector. Every few months I'll clean the couches and then put the protector on them. This keeps the couches clean and will help prolong the life, and protect them from drying out, which is when you then start seeing cracking of the leather.
- Test your smoke alarms (and maybe even replace the batteries) – All smoke alarms are equipped with a button to test them. Go around and press this button on all of your alarms and make sure it beeps. If you have a system where all of the smoke alarms are wired together, it should set off all the other alarms to, so test this. If you can't remember the last time you changed the batteries, it's probably time to do that as well. If you have smoke alarms that aren't connected together (and thus aren't connected to the house's electrical system), you should replace the batteries every six months. If you have alarms which are wired to your house's power, once a year is generally fine.
- Clean your dryer line – You know how you're supposed to clean the lint filter every time you run the dryer? That's great advice, but the dirty little secret is that lint continues through the system. If you have a hose connecting the back of your dryer to the hole in the wall that sends the exhaust outdoors, you should disconnect that hose and make sure it isn't clogged with lint. Letting this go untouched for too long can make your dryer run poorly, and can put you at risk of carbon monoxide posioning and at risk of fire. Just make sure that you securely fit the hose back on tightly, and ensure it's on properly after the first few times you run the dryer.
- Check the caulking around your windows – Ideally you should do this on the inside and the outside, but since these are ‘quick' fixes, just focus on the inside of your windows. Take a look around at the caulking between the window and the wall. If you don't have any, you have a big problem! If it's there and it doesn't have any cracks, that's great! But, if it's there and starting to crack, you should start thinking about re-caulking. This means it's drying out, creating gaps, and losing effectiveness. Caulk is one of those things that you can generally apply and forget about, but just for a few years. Not forever.
- Go take a look at your water meter – Go find your water meter and take a look at the reading. Write down all of the numbers. Go do something else for 15 minutes or so, making sure that you aren't running water anywhere (no flushing, no showers, no washing your hands), and then go take another reading. If the numbers are all the same, you're in good shape. But, if the numbers don't match, it could mean you have a small leak somewhere. Many leaks go completely undetected but can take big chunks of your water bill.
- Tighten something that's loose – There is always something that's come loose somewhere. It drives you crazy when it jiggles, then you forget about it, so it never gets fixed. Whether it's a knob on a closet door or a kitchen cabinet, the handle on the refrigerator, or somewhere else, chances are a screw just needs to be tightened
- Go clean something – Find an area where you haven't cleaned in over six months. A junk drawer. The shelf in one of your closets. Whatever. Take a few minutes and clean it. Chances are if it's been that long, you'll find some stuff you can get rid of, eliminating clutter and getting something clean in the process. You may even come across something you haven't been able to find in quite some time!
Those are just a few ideas. What types of little things do you do that you'd like to share?