Great Gifts for New Homeowners
New homeowners often don't know they need a tool or household item until it's absolutely necessary. Help out that new homeowner in your life with one of these fantastic gift ideas.
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A Robot Vacuum
It’s amazing how fast a house can get dirty, even a new one. That’s what makes a vacuum cleaner an essential part of the home toolkit; there are few items you’ll use more. A robot vacuum does all that work — just set it and forget it.
The eufy BoostIQ RoboVac11S by Anker packs a lot of power into a tiny rotating disc, and it’s surprisingly quiet. It senses when more suction power is needed and kicks it up to tackle the tougher messes. It makes the jump from hard floors to carpet with ease. It runs for about 100 minutes on a single charge.
A Utility Light and More
Here’s a product we received that initially elicited a shoulder shrug, this time from our senior editor, Travis Larson. His reaction changed once he started playing with it. Needless to say, he was impressed.
The Cat brand CT6515 Rechargeable Utility Light/Lantern works as a flashlight or a lantern. It’s rechargeable, and the cord stays attached so it’s hard to lose. There’s a magnet on the bottom and a hook on the top, so you can use it anywhere you need to shed a little light on the situation. You can even charge your phone with it.
A Toilet Plunger to Love
The basic plunger design hasn’t changed much in 100 years, but that’s not because there wasn’t room for improvement. Witness the Korky Beehive Max Toilet Plunger.
The pliable rubber creates a better seal, so it clears clogs with no splash-back. Plus, more and more toilets have keyhole-shape rather than round discharge openings. Unlike conventional plungers, the Beehive reshapes itself to those keyholes, which also improves the seal.
Unlike many plungers, the water drains instantly because there’s no recess or lip to hold water or worse. The little T-handle at the top is a nice touch, too.
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All-Purpose Construction Adhesive
Wandered down the caulking aisle in a home center lately? Seems like there are a dozen or more construction adhesives to choose from, for masonry, wood, foam, decking, paneling, marble, mirrors, drywall — you name it. Multipurpose adhesives are available, which is great, but wouldn’t an all-purpose adhesive be even better?
That’s exactly what Gorilla Construction Adhesive is: all-purpose and all-surface. It takes hold in as little as 30 seconds and works indoors and out.
Check out the strongest construction adhesives.
The Honeywell Wireless Doorbell Kit features a choice of six high-quality chimes. The volume adjusts, and more than one doorbell and button can be used together. But here are the things we love most: It’s got a 450-ft. range, and works with as many as six transmitters. So if you’re waiting on a pizza delivery or the cable guy, you’re not stuck inside the house.
Smartphone-friendly Garage Door Opener
This Chamberlain garage door opener with a built-in camera includes a few useful features. Its hefty 1-1/4-horsepower motor with a battery backup means it’ll work even if the power goes out. The door starts out slowly, picks up speed, then slows before reaching the top or bottom. That, in conjunction with the belt drive, makes it super quiet.
With the included smartphone app, you can see what’s happening in real time with the built-in camera. You can also open and close the garage door (or check it you left it open) from nearly anywhere.
Smarter Smart Bulbs
This line of smart LED bulbs from GE, simply called “C,” can be directly controlled with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth — no central hub necessary.
The “C” line features two types of bulbs: The “C Life” is an all-purpose light for the kitchen, living room or office. The “C Sleep” bulb supports the body’s natural circadian rhythms, which can help you sleep more soundly. It emits a traditional soft light for the day; a warm, calming light before bedtime; and a crisp, energizing light in the morning.
Via the app, the lights can be dimmed and set to a timer as a group or individually. If limited to three hours of use per day, the manufactured claims the bulbs should last for 20 years.
Fast Fix for Pet Stains
For new homeowners with pets, the Bissell SpotBot might just be the best gift of all. The SpotBot is a hands-free spot and stain cleaner.
The coolest part about this thing? It does all the work for you. Just fill it with water and cleaning solution, park it over the stain, push the start button and walk away. It automatically squirts the special cleaner into the carpet, scrubs with a rotary brush, rinses and sucks up all the mess. When it shuts itself off, the stain is gone.
Be sure to have these pet cleaning tips at the ready as well.
Eliminate Stinky Gasoline Smells
The smell of gas seems to stay on your hands for hours, and washing your hands with soap and water doesn’t always take care of it. That’s where Gas Off Wipes by Briggs & Stratton come in handy.
Dissolve Mortar Like Magic
When you’re pouring concrete near a house, it’s common for a bit to splash up onto the siding, garage door or window. It’s not a big deal if you wash it off right away, but woe unto you if you let it dry. Removing cured concrete requires harsh chemicals or a whole lot of scrubbing and scraping.
Sakrete has come to the rescue with a product called Concrete Mortar Dissolver. Just spray it on and watch concrete or mortar dissolve. Thick messes will take a couple of applications, but it really works.
We tried it on some vinyl siding and it performed as advertised. We especially like that it’s safe enough to apply without gloves. It also won’t harm sensitive surfaces like auto paint. Some pro masons clean their tools with it.
While we’re at it, find out how to repair mortar joints.
A Fast and Maintenance-Free Storage Solution
High-density polyethylene plastic (HDPE) is tough, lightweight and weather resistant. It won’t rot and never needs paint. If those qualities sound good to you, and you need a fast storage solution, consider an HDPE shed.
The 7×7 Rubbermaid Big Max storage shed shown here is big enough to store yard and garden tools, a pressure washer and a snow blower. And the sturdy floor can easily handle the weight of a riding lawn mower.
In just a few hours, with the help of a buddy (who probably owes you anyway), you can build this maintenance-free shed. Assembly requires only a couple of ladders, a few simple hand tools and perhaps a cold beverage or two afterward. The hardest part might be creating a flat spot in your yard.
The doors of the Big Max lock. And the HDPE panels are rugged enough to resist those wayward baseballs from the neighbor kid.
Efficient Bike Storage
Hanging bicycles from the rafters is a great way to save garage space. But even hanging bikes can take up a bunch of room. Here’s a cool space-saving product that puts a new twist on the humble bike hook.
The Saris Cycle Glide is a system of hooks mounted on glides. Once the bikes are on the hooks, slide them closer to the wall on the glides that mount perpendicular to the wall. And because the hooks slide back and forth on the lower set of glides, the bikes can be nestled neatly together, taking up a lot less space.
This system also makes it easier to take down the bikes when they’re hanging over a parked car, a boat or a big mess like in my garage. That’s because you can pull or push the bikes clear of the obstruction before you lower it.
A Better Toilet Paper Holder
A pivoting toilet paper holder just might convince you it’s the little things in life that make us happy. The holder’s pivoting arm lifts up but stays attached. That means no more chasing spring-loaded rollers around the bathroom floor. Buy this type of paper holder at home centers or online.
If you’re having problems with your toilet flushing, check out our repair tips.
The Moen Magnetix handheld shower secures to the shower arm with a magnet rather than a clip. The Magnetix line offers adjustable spray patterns and water-saving engineering while still giving you a strong flow.
Snap-On USB Outlets
This outlet cover plate with a built-in USB charger is as easy to install as a regular cover plate. Just shut down the power, unscrew the old plate and screw on the new one. No receptacle replacement required. The USB port gets its power from two prongs that contact the screws on the sides of the receptacle.
Sure, a funnel keeps fluids from spilling all over. But when you’re done pouring and pull it out of the hole, the fluid left in the funnel drips all over the place.
This Hopkins FloTool On-Off Refill Spout keeps that from happening. It’s great for windshield washer fluid, antifreeze containers, even a gallon jug of chain saw bar oil. There’s no mess and no cap to fumble around with — just twist and pour.
The Only Tool Set You Need
You probably don’t have a complete set of sockets and wrenches in your tool bag or the emergency vehicle kit under your truck seat. But if it contains the new Crescent Pass-Thru Adjustable Wrench Set, you’re good to go. This compact tool kit features 10 spline-style sockets that work with hex, square and external Torx fasteners, from 10mm to 19mm and 3/8- to 23/32-in.
The pass-through sockets fit over protruding bolt threads and nuts mounted on studs, eliminating the need to carry deep sockets. For more grabbing power, replace the smooth jaw with the serrated side and you’ve got yourself a pipe wrench, perfect for stripped bolt heads and pipes up to one inch.
Learn some tricks to loosen tricky nuts, bolts and screws.
Creating an accent wall with stylish wallpaper is a great way to update a room, but it’s amazing how fast ‘trendy’ can become just plain weird. If you’ve ever had to remove stubbornly stuck wallpaper, you won’t want to repeat the experience.
Enter Tempaper, a removable wallpaper that sticks to any smooth, painted or primed surface. When you’re tired of the pattern or you’re trying to sell your house without frightening prospective buyers, simply peel it off. It won’t damage the drywall or leave messy glue behind.
It’s also a perfect option for apartment residents who want to decorate without losing their damage deposit. Check out the 90 patterns and watch the installation video on their web site.
Learn how to remove wallpaper if there’s some in your new house you don’t like.
Family Handyman Handy Hints: Tips, Tricks & Hacks to Make Life Easier
Featuring more than 200 reader-submitted tips, Family Handyman Handy Hints is every new homeowner’s guide to caring for their property. Whether they’re looking for organization solutions or project tips, they’ll be happy to have this trusted source of advice on hand. It’s the next best thing to having a Family Handyman editor on speed dial.