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If You Do These 62 Things You’re the Perfect Homeowner

Don't let home repairs sneak up on you.

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Inspect Attic For Leaks During Rain Storm

“Go into your attic to spot any leaks during a rain storm,” says John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada. “Roof leaks can go unrepaired for a long time creating damage to insulation and can be a source of mold growth, which is harmful to your health.” Plus: 15 silent signs that your roof is failing.

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Check HVAC Filters

Bodrozic says you should replace your air filters at least four times a year, but it’s best to check them once a month. This keeps air in the house healthy and your system running efficiently because they are not clogged with debris or dust. We’ll walk you through cleaning your AC condenser unit yourself.

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garage doorISTOCK/RONTECH2000

Inspect Automatic Garage Door Safety Shutoff

Test that the safety features of your automatic-opening garage door are still in good shape, says Bodrozic. That includes the safety beams, which should stop the door from closing if it detects anything the door’s path. Plus: Check out this crazy double-decker car storage idea for your garage.

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garage door hingeISTOCK/LEX20

Lubricate Garage Doors

“Your doors are probably a series of panels that are connected with hinges and have either metal or plastic rollers on each side,” Bodrozic says. “Use an appropriate lubricant, depending on metal or plastic rollers, to keep your garage door operating smoothly and prolong its useful life.”

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Trim Shrubs Around Your Air-Conditioning Units

Shrubs often grow around your A/C unit, which blocks free air flow, says Bodrozic. “This causes the unit to work harder and can cause damage, so it is important to trim shrubs and remove leaves from the surrounding area.”

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Clear Snow From All Outside Vents, Meters and Oil Fill Pipe

Blocked outside vents can be a crucial safety issue as carbon monoxide can build up if they are blocked by snow. Check your dryer, furnace, and water heater vents monthly, and especially after a snowstorm. Here’s a helpful document that explains what these vents look like and what to do. Also, make sure your gas and electric meters are accessible, and your oil or propane company has a way to deliver fuel in the snow, ideally a cleared path. Check out these incredible snow removal tools.

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clean refrigeratorISTOCK/BRIANAJACKSON

Clean Your Refrigerator Grille

“The top or bottom of your refrigerator has a grille that you can detach to get access to the compressor and cooling coils. This builds up dust over time and blocks air flow, which can burn out your refrigerator’s cooling system” says Bodrozic. Learn everything you need to know about repairing your refrigerator here.

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Organize Your Refrigerator

“Whether you live in an apartment by yourself or you have a family of five, somehow food always piles up in the fridge,” says professional organizer Christina Giaquinto, owner of Christina Giaquinto Organizing LLC. At the beginning of every month, take out all the containers and perishable items and decide what is good to eat, and what needs to be thrown out,” she suggests. “If you have a little extra motivation, I suggest wiping the shelves down and doing a thorough clean after you finish de-cluttering.” Here are foods you shouldn’t even be storing in the fridge.

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Inspect Sinks and Tub Drains

“If you notice that your sinks or tubs aren’t draining as quickly, there may be a buildup causing a blockage,” says Kyle Gesuelli, home improvement expert at “The first thing to do is try to remove anything that is obstructing the pipe manually using a pipe cleaner to pull debris through the plughole. Second, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by some hot water, which should clear things out.” Here’s more info on how to clear a clogged sink drain.

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garbage disposalISTOCK/-OXFORD-

Clean the Garbage Disposal

“The best way to clean out your garbage disposal is with baking soda and white vinegar, ” says Gesuelli. “Take half a cup of baking soda and a cup of white wine vinegar, and put both down the sink. After a few minutes, pour some boiling hot water down, too. Next, fill the drain with some ice cubes, and add a cup of salt, which will help to remove debris. Finally, add lemon halves to the disposal and keep both the water running and the garbage disposal on.” Here are 15 things you should never put down your garbage disposal.

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Clean Filters In Your Range Hood

“The purpose of the range hood filter is to collect grease, so over time it will become less effective as the grease builds up,” Gesuelli says. “To clean them, simply remove them and place them in a sink full of hot water, dishwashing liquid, and baking soda. Leave to soak for 10 to 15 minutes. If needed, scrub the remaining grease off with a brush, and then rinse clean. Dry the filters with a paper towel before replacing them.”

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Keep a Monthly Home Maintenance Calendar

“Staying on top of all the preventative maintenance tasks throughout each month of the year is important to reduce energy costs, avoid early replacements costs, and keep the home healthy and safe for the family. Here is a quick overview of a helpful app that creates these tasks and many others automatically for homeowners” says Bodrozic. Don’t forget about these things all homeowners should do once a year.

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Make Your Furnace Last

Make Your Furnace Last

Regular filter replacement is the very best thing you can do to keep your furnace in top condition. And here's a way to keep track of that task: Buy several filters and label them. With some systems, monthly filter changes are best. Others can go a few months between changes.

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Shut Off the Water Before VacationFamily Handyman

Shut Off the Water Before Vacation

Every insurance adjuster has a hundred stories like this one: The homeowners left town Friday and returned Sunday evening to find thousands of dollars in water damage. The moral of these stories is simple: Before going on vacation, turn off the main water valve. In less than a minute, you can eliminate the most common cause of home damage. See what a plumbing disaster looks like with these 100 plumbing goofs and other scary things.
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Make a Homeowner's JournalFamily Handyman

Make a Homeowner's Journal

Buy a ring binder and keep insurance papers, repair receipts and all other paperwork pertaining to the house in it. Storing all your house information in one handy place makes life easier for the homeowner and can be a sales 'plus' when selling the house later. – reader Debora Emmert Paying too much for your insurance? Learn how to save money on insurance here.
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Deal with DrainageFamily Handyman

Deal with Drainage

Water has the potential to cause problems in any home, and the skills to deal with drainage issues can be a huge money saver in the long run. Extending downspouts is an easy fix, but knowing how to make a drainage plan is going to provide long-term results for minimal effort. Plus: Permanent Fixes for Damp Basements
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Adjust Your Water HeaterFamily Handyman

Adjust Your Water Heater

If you've ever taken a vacation without adjusting your water heater, you've already lost money on this easy-to-master homeowner skill. While finding the large dial, usually at the base of your water heater, shouldn't be hard, finding the correct temperature may be. Find out how to find and set the right temperature for your heater here. When going away on holidays, turn your water temperature down to avoid the need to maintain the temperature of the whole tank while you're away. Just don't forget to turn it back up when you get home! Plus: How to Fix a Water Heater Pilot Light
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Understand Electrical

Understand Electrical

Electrical overloads are easily created but can be incredibly dangerous for your home and everyone in it. A solid understanding of how the electrical circuits in your home function will not only make you a master homeowner, it will allow you to make as many DIY improvements as you want while maintaining the integrity of your electrical system. Here's how. Plus: The 8 Most Common Electrical Code Violations DIYers Make
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Stir-Stick Paint OrganizerFamily Handyman

Stir-Stick Paint Organizer

When you buy custom-mixed paint, the paint clerk slaps the mix label on top of the can. I always ask for an extra label to wrap around a stir stick. When I'm done with the project, I let the stir stick dry and drill a hole near the top of it. Then I label both the stick and the can with the name of the room where I used the paint. I hang the stir sticks near the cans of leftover paint. With both the color formula and a dried paint sample in view, I don't have to pull down every can to find the right one for touch-ups. — reader Perry Parson Here are 8 Great Painting Tips.
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Test the Sump Pump or Risk a FloodFamily Handyman

Test the Sump Pump or Risk a Flood

It's easy to forget about your sump pump, but it's important to make sure it's in good working order. If you don't, you could end up like the homeowner who returned from a weekend trip to discover his entire basement floor covered in 1/2 in. of water. After shutting down the power, he waded over to the sump pump and noticed it wasn't working. Upon closer inspection, he realized that the cable attached to the float must have gotten tangled somehow. It took him two seconds to untangle the cable, and then he spent the next 15 hours dragging out waterlogged carpet, running the wet/dry vac and moving fans around. To avoid a similar disaster, be sure your pump has a vertical float switch. Also, check your pump at least a couple times a year by dumping water into the basin to make sure everything is working properly.
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Clean Dryer Vents or Waste Energy and Risk a FireFamily Handyman

Clean Dryer Vents or Waste Energy and Risk a Fire

A plugged dryer vent will cause your dryer to run inefficiently, and that's bad. A plugged dryer vent could also cause a house fire, and that could be deadly! Dryers that are centrally located in houses are most prone to plugging because of the longer ducts. Excess lint is only one reason ducts get clogged; nesting pests and stuck exhaust hood flappers can also cause backups. Stronger odors and longer dry times are two signs your vent is plugged. You'll have to remove the vent from the back of the dryer to clean it. Suck debris from the ducts with a wet/dry vac, or ream them out with a cleaning kit that includes a brush on a long flexible rod that attaches to a power drill. The kits are available at home centers. If your ducts need replacing, get smooth metal ducts, which will stay cleaner longer than the rough corrugated surface of flexible ducts. Avoid plastic ducting altogether; it can be a fire hazard. Plus: Slash Heating Bills
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How to Stop Under-the-Door Air LeaksFamily Handyman

How to Stop Under-the-Door Air Leaks

If you can feel the breeze and see daylight under your entry door, it's costing you big-time. It also means you need to adjust your door threshold or install a new door sweep. Door sweeps start at $10. The hardest part about replacing them is usually taking off the door. Start by adjusting the threshold. Newer versions have screws that raise and lower them. Turn all of the threshold screws until the door opens and closes without much drag and any draft is eliminated. If that doesn't work, or your threshold doesn't have adjustment screws, replace the door sweep. Close the door and pop out the hinge pins with a pin punch to remove the door. Set the door on a work surface and remove the old door sweep. Caulk the ends of the door, then install the replacement sweep. Some sweeps are tapped into place and stapled along the door bottom; others are screwed to the side along the door bottom. If a drafty sliding patio door is your problem, here's how to fix it.
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Under-Sink Archives

Under-Sink Archives

Don't file away the manuals and spare parts that came with your kitchen and bath fixtures. Instead, put them right where you'll need them, in zip-top bags hung on hooks at the back walls of cabinets. For more simple life organization hacks click here.
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RefrigeratorFamily Handyman


Spend 30 minutes on these simple maintenance steps to keep your fridge running in tip top shape. It's hard to believe, but six simple maintenance steps will prevent almost 100 percent of refrigerator breakdowns and eliminate those service calls. Take these steps and you can forget about spoiled food, lost time waiting for repair people and shelling out $70 an hour plus parts for the repair itself. In this story, we'll show you how to keep your fridge humming and trouble-free. And we'll also tell you what to check if a problem does occur.
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How to Seal Outlets and Ceiling Boxes

How to Seal Outlets and Ceiling Boxes

The tiny gaps around outlets on exterior walls and ceiling boxes let cold air in (and warm air out). Sealing these areas takes just half a day and will help cut down on drafts (and your heating bill!).
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Family Handyman

Protect Wood From Moisture

Insects and other small pests need to draw life-sustaining moisture from their surroundings, so they avoid dry places and are attracted to moist ones. If the soil around your house, the foundation and the walls is dry, it’ll be less attractive to insects, spiders and centipedes. Rake moisture-wicking soil and mulch away from the window frames and low wood. Turn your mulch periodically to help keep dampness down, and keep bushes trimmed back as well.

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fh12oct_532_06_026 protect your chimney gate to keep fall pests outFamily Handyman

Guard Your Chimney

Install a chimney cap and screen to keep out pests like rodents and birds. Not only can they do damage, but they often bring in smaller bugs that will take up residence in your home. Check out our ultimate guide to getting rid of pests for help on how to deal with them as they start to look for warmer locales in the fall.

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dfh17sep026_650566540_12 washing beddingMy Hardy/Shutterstock

Check Seasonal Clothing for Pests

Do you have seasonal clothes or bedding that you are bringing out of storing? Wash and dry it all thoroughly to kill any waiting bug eggs, and inspect everything for signs of an infestation before you pack it away—or start wearing it.

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trim shrubsFamily Handyman

Trim Plants Against Your House

Once you kill the ants in your house and yard, take steps to ensure they don’t come back. Trim back bushes, shrubs and trees that brush against your siding or roof and provide a bridge for ants to reach your house. Keep a 3-in. to 6-in. clearance space between the soil around the foundation and the bottom row of siding to prevent ants from nesting in the siding (and make sure the soil slopes away from the house). Avoid stacking firewood next to the house. Firewood makes a perfect retreat for ants. Ants like bare spots in the yard and they like to build nests under layers of thatch. Maintaining a healthy lawn is one way to discourage ants. If anthills pop up in bare areas, spray the mound with insecticide and plant grass in the bare spots. Rake the lawn or bag the grass when you mow to eliminate thatch.

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FH06MAY_CTRPYH_05Family Handyman

Don’t Let Pests in Through the Dryer Vent

Examine dryer vents to ensure the damper isn’t stuck open or broken off completely. Also check that the seal between the vent and the wall is tight. It might also be a good time to clean the dryer vent cover to prevent cold drafts from coming in during winter.

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FH08NOV_493_05_011 insulation in crawl spaces air duct inspection fall pestsFamily Handyman

Check Your Crawl Spaces

Take a flashlight and protective clothing into your crawlspaces and/or basement and have a look around. Look for large, obvious nests of shredded material, which indicate rodents. Watch for smaller signs too, like lines of ants or scrambling cockroaches looking for a home. And remove these pests and find out how they gained entry to stop future incursions.

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repair torn screenFamily Handyman

Repair Torn Screens

Windows screens, mosquito nets and similar barriers protect against inquisitive summer pests, but only if they provide complete protection. And as long as the frame is in good shape repairs are easy and can be done in a few minutes. Here’s how to make your screen door or window look good as new.

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firewood Zhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock

Store Firewood Away from the House

While firewood may be an important summer staple for your backyard fire pit, it’s also a magnet for pests that will happily make the jump into the house. So store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.

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spray foam to seal gaps

Seal Gaps

Look not only for larger gaps in your attic or garage, but watch for small, unsealed gaps where electrical lines and pipes enter your house. Bugs, mice and other pests love these small gaps. So caulk them closed or use expanding foam insulation to deny entry.

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Family Handyman

Protect the A/C Compressor or Risk Damage From a Falling Icicle

There’s no reason to wrap your entire air conditioner for the winter, and many manufacturers advise against it because it can invite rodents and cause condensation, which can lead to early corrosion. But it’s not a bad idea to set a piece of plywood on top of the unit to protect it from falling icicles. And see our maintenance guide to learn how to clean your air conditioners in the spring.

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Clean Weep HolesThe Family Handyman

Clean Weep Holes

Weep holes may be the tiniest feature of many sliding windows and vinyl replacement windows, but they serve a big function. The little holes, located on the exterior bottom of the frame, are an outlet for rainwater to drain away from the home, but they often can become clogged up with debris. To make sure they're working properly, spray the outside of the window with a garden hose – a steady stream of clean water should exit from the holes. If it doesn't, use a wire hanger or compressed air to force the blockage out. Re-test with fresh water to ensure they're completely cleaned. While you're at it, do these 10 more vital home maintenance tasks you'll regret if you forget.
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Reseed Late in the Growing SeasonFamily Handyman

Reseed Late in the Growing Season

For a healthy spring and summer lawn, reseed in the late summer/early fall. Whether you're seeding a small patch or a whole yard, you're going to be much more successful if you wait for the cooler, damper weather of late summer or early fall. It's almost impossible to get seed to survive during the dog days of summer — in most regions, it's simply too hot and dry.
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Get Your Gutters ReadyFamily Handyman

Get Your Gutters Ready

Make sure your home is ready to deal with the rain and snow that comes as the seasons change. Walk around your home and check for loose gutters, broken pieces and detached downspouts and make the necessary repairs. Ensure your gutters are clear of leaves and other debris and that your downspouts are directing water away from your foundation.
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Check Exterior Caulking and WeatherstrippingFamily Handyman

Check Exterior Caulking and Weatherstripping

Fall is the perfect time to make sure your house is properly caulked and your weatherstripping is in good shape. Inspect around windows, doors and anywhere else two materials meet to make sure the caulk is in good shape. Check weatherstripping around doors and replace if it's broken or missing – it's super easy to do.
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Give Your Roof a Once-OverFamily Handyman

Give Your Roof a Once-Over

No one wants to be fixing a roof in the dead of winter. Give it a once-over to make sure there aren't any signs of trouble. Pay attention to broken or missing shingles, missing flashing and any discoloration.
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Fix Driveway and Sidewalks Before They Get Worse

Fix Driveway and Sidewalks Before They Get Worse

Changing temperatures and moisture can turn a small concrete problem into a big one. Take some time to repair broken concrete and get some more time out of your sidewalk, driveway and steps before they're in need of full replacement.
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Install Frost-Proof Outdoor Faucets

Install Frost-Proof Outdoor Faucets

New outdoor faucets are frost-proof and also prevent unsanitary water from contaminating your water system. Installing a new outdoor faucet takes just a few hours and will give you peace of mind all winter long.
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Take a Peek at Your FurnaceNeil Lockhart/Shutterstock

Take a Peek at Your Furnace

Make sure your furnace is in good shape before you really need to use it. With a few tools and some time, you can perform a DIY furnace inspection to head off problems before they start.
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Check Your Chimney or Risk a FireFamily Handyman

Check Your Chimney or Risk a Fire

Creosote buildup causes chimney fires. You should have your chimney professionally inspected or cleaned after every 70 fires. If you burn wet wood (which you shouldn't), have it inspected or cleaned every 50 fires. Don't remember the last time you had it cleaned by a pro? A quick way to tell if your chimney needs cleaning is to run the point of your fireplace poker along the inside of your chimney liner. If you find a 1/8-in. layer (or more) of buildup, call a chimney sweep. For additional expert chimney maintenance advice, check out what two certified professional chimney sweeps have to say.
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Fertilize Your LawnBochkarev Photography/Shutterstock

Fertilize Your Lawn

It's important to apply fertilizer to your lawn during the fall — in fact, if you only apply fertilizer once a year, fall is the time to do it. Your lawn has spent all summer growing and it's hungry!
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Bleed Hot Water RadiatorsFamily Handyman

Bleed Hot Water Radiators

When trapped air clogs a hot water radiator, some or all of the 'fins' will stay cold. At the top of the radiator, look for a small valve like the one shown. Take a radiator key, 1/4-in. 12-point socket, or a flat screwdriver (depending on the valve type) and slowly turn the valve counter-clockwise until water starts dripping out. This releases the trapped air and lets hot water into the cold fins. While you're at it, you might as well repeat the process on all of your radiators. Have a cup or dish handy to catch the water.

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Inspect and Fix Your Garage Door

Inspect and Fix Your Garage Door

Cold can wreak havoc on garage door tracks. Make sure your garage door is in good shape so you don't find yourself stuck in the garage (or worse yet – stuck outside). Learn all you need to know about fixing your garage door here.
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Check Your Detectors

Check Your Detectors

With furnaces turned on, the windows closed and portable heaters humming along, fall is a great time to make sure your smoke and CO detectors are working. Check batteries and expiration dates – smoke detectors are typically good for 10 years, and CO detectors last for about six years.
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Insulate Pipes

Insulate Pipes

Pipes running through unheated basements and crawlspaces as well as exterior walls can be prone to freezing during winter (and causing bigger problems). Make sure it doesn't happen to you. Check out these easy ways to insulate pipes.
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Test for Radon

Test for Radon

If you haven't tested your house for radon, now is the time to do it. Sealing up your house for the winter also means you're trapping potential cancer-causing radon gas. Get your house tested and take means to mitigate it if it's a problem.
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Clean Dryers and VentsFamily Handyman

Clean Dryers and Vents

Thousands of dryer fires are caused by lint every year, yet they can be easily prevented with a few minutes of cleaning. With drier air and cooler temperatures approaching, make it a fall ritual to clean out your dryer and vent.
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Handrail Safety CheckPavel L Photo and Video

Handrail Safety Check

Go around your property and test and secure any loose handrails. Think about someone grabbing a handrail when slipping on some ice or snow, and make sure it's up to the task.
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Family Handyman

Garage Door Foul Line

Here’s the straight solution for keeping bikes, trikes, garden tools and car bumpers from being squashed by a descending garage door (or keep them from triggering the electric eye). Close the garage door and press down a strip of 2-in.-wide masking tape along the inside edge. Lay another strip of tape 1-1/2 in. to the outside of the first. Spray on the line, pull the tape and let dry. Now when you close the door, glance at the line to be sure the door will seal on concrete, not on a tool or the tail of your sleeping cat.

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lawn products in plastic bagFamily Handyman

Preserve Lawn Supplies

Lawn products like seed and fertilizer soak up moisture in damp garages. To keep them fresh, store them in giant zip-top bags (available at discount stores). Learn how to grow a lush lawn here.

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Furnace intake and exhaustFamily Handyman

Check the Intake and Exhaust Pipes

Newer high-efficiency furnaces will shut off if something like a bird or ice buildup blocks either the fresh-air pipe or the exhaust pipe. You’ll need to go outside and peek inside the pipes to see. Sometimes a critter can get lodged in the pipe all the way back to the furnace and you won’t be able to see it without taking the pipe apart, a job best left to a pro.

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DamperFamily Handyman

Reset Dampers

If your furnace heating ducts also serve as air conditioning ducts, they may have dampers that require adjusting for seasonal changes. The seasonal settings should be marked. Two-story homes often have separate supply trunks to serve the upstairs and downstairs. To send more warm air downstairs (winter setting) or more cold air upstairs (summer setting), adjust the damper handle on each supply trunk.

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Family Handyman

Seal Leaky Ducts

Seal leaky ducts, especially return air ducts, with special metal tape (available at home centers) or high-temperature silicone. Then conduct a backdrafting test to make sure the combustion gases go up the flue. Adjust the thermostat so the burners come on.

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Family Handyman

Test Your Water Heater for Backdrafting

Test your gas water heater for backdrafting while your furnace is off. Turn up the water heater thermostat until the water heater burner comes on. After a minute or more, hold a smoking stick of incense or match up to the exhaust stack. The smoke should be pulled into the stack. Conduct the test with all exterior doors and windows closed and bath and kitchen fans running. If the vent doesn’t draw, call in a heating specialist or plumber to find the problem. Turn the thermostat back down.

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Check for High Water Pressure or Wreck Fixtures and AppliancesFamily Handyman

Check for High Water Pressure or Wreck Fixtures and Appliances

A technician was assisting a water softener installer who was replacing a fairly new softener because the first one had ruptured and filled the pipes with little zeolite beads.

The installer didn't seem too worried about why the first one failed, but the assistant did a little investigating. A water pressure test gave a reading of more than 110 lbs. psi. The culprit was the 20-year-old pressure-reducing valve. After a new valve was installed, the pressure went down to about 75 lbs. Pressure-reducing valves are usually found near the main water shutoff valve, but not all homes have them. It depends on your municipality.

High water pressure can harm pipes, connections, and appliances. It also creates water hammer and waste massive amounts of water. Checking for high water pressure is an often overlooked maintenance item, and one that's easy enough to perform. A new pressure-reducing valve and a simple pressure gauge like this one that hooks up to a spigot or laundry tub faucet are both available at home centers.

Plus: Appliance Care and Maintenance Tips to Make Appliances Last

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Check Garage Door Balance or Wreck Your OpenerFamily Handyman

Check Garage Door Balance or Wreck Your Opener

A properly balanced door is less likely to injure someone or something and keeps the door opener from working too hard, which will shorten its life.

To check the balance on a door, close the door and then disengage the opener by pulling the opener release handle. Manually pull up the door about halfway and let go. A properly balanced door will stay in the halfway position by itself. If it falls, the tension needs to be increased. If the door rises, the door spring has too much tension, which means it's working harder than it needs to.

Check the door a couple times a year. Adjusting the spring tension is tricky and dangerous. Call a garage door professional to perform the service, or see advanced garage door repairs.

Plus: Reclaim Your Garage-Organize It!

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Check for Ice DamsSuzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Check for Ice Dams

If your home lacks good insulation and venting, there's a good chance it may be prone to ice dams. Get outside regularly during the winter and check around the house for signs of icicles and large chunks of ice near the edge of your roof. Water melting off the roof pools behind the ice and then seeps back up under the shingles. And sometimes water can work its way 5 or even 10 ft. back up under the shingles. Eventually it drips through the roof into the soffits (the outside overhangs), walls, and worst of all, onto your ceilings.
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Clean the GuttersJohn E. Heintz Jr./Shutterstock

Clean the Gutters

There's a reason gutter cleaning and maintenance comes up in just about every homeowners maintenance checklist. A debris-clogged gutter with added snow and ice can cause damage to your home, including problems with roof leaks and even foundation problems. And if you cleaned out your gutters in the fall and more leaves got trapped there, you'll need to clean out the gutters again.