12 Cheap Ways to Make Your Stuff Last Longer
Making your stuff last longer is a great way to get more bang for your buck, and there are dozens of ways to do that, many of which you probably already know: changing the oil in your car, putting on a fresh coat of paint, etc. But we’ve gathered some great tips that may be new to you, tips that will help you get the most out of your house, tools and even your clothes.
Store Paint Cans Upside Down
When a paint can is stored upside down, the paint creates an absolutely airtight seal, which will make the paint last longer. The obvious caveat to this tip is to make sure the lids are sealed tightly.
Don’t Wreck an Outdoor Faucet
Here’s why you end up replacing outdoor faucet washers that have worn out long before they should: When you turn off a frost-proof faucet, water continues to trickle out of the long pipe even after the valve is closed. When people see that water, they often assume the valve didn’t close, so they crank down harder, which overcompresses the washer, greatly reducing its life. Patience is the key. Wait a second or two after closing the valve. The water should eventually stop (unless you’ve already destroyed the washer).
MYTH: Frost-proof faucets cannot freeze.
FACT: Leaving a hose attached throughout the winter could leave water in the line to freeze and cause the faucet to burst. Also, if the faucet slopes slightly toward the house, the long pipe will also hold water that can freeze.
Loosen Band Saw Blades
Band saw blades that are always under pressure can break prematurely from metal fatigue. Extend the life of your blades by releasing the blade tension whenever your saw will sit idle for three days or longer. Some saws have a quick-release mechanism, which makes this a cinch. Otherwise, rotate the tensioning knob two or three complete turns.
Protect Garden Hoses From Sun Damage
UV light from the sun slowly destroys plastics, so if you can’t keep your garden hose out of the sun, wipe it down with some Armor All or similar protectant in the spring and again midsummer. Set the hose on plastic or cardboard, spray the whole thing down and then wipe it with a rag.
Keep the Roof Clean
Leaves and moss can trap water and cause your roof to deteriorate prematurely. You can blow the leaves off a low-pitched roof with a leaf blower. On steeper roofs, you can pull them off with a broom on an extension pole. And it’s wise to trim back all branches that are close to or touching the shingles.
Chemically treat mold, then sweep it off with a soft broom. A diluted bleach solution will kill mold but could also kill the plants on the ground below, so be careful to spray just enough to soak the mold itself. Specific roof cleaners containing fungicide are also available. Installing zinc strips at the peak of the roof can help keep mold at bay.
Cover Your Toes
Extend the life of your work boots or shoes by coating the toes with a rubbery protective shell. The product shown here is called Tuff Toe and can be found at shoe stores or online. Boot Guard is another brand.
Plus: Amazing Repair Products
Use a Gentler Drain Cleaner
Frequent use of some chemical drain cleaners can soften plastic drain pipes and corrode metal ones. Go easy on your pipes by using a drain cleaner made of natural enzymes that eat away at grease, oil and soap blockages. This type of drain cleaner isn’t nearly as aggressive as traditional cleaners and is best used as a preventive measure. Use it when you first notice the slow draining. Home Solv is one brand you can find online.
MYTH: It’s OK to pour grease down the drain while running hot water.
FACT: Sure, the hot water will keep the grease from hardening, but only until it cools off farther down your drain lines. That just makes the clog harder to clear. Never pour grease down your drain!
Lubricate Bits and Blades
Use Boelube to make drill bits last longer. Whenever you drill multiple holes in metal, stick the bit into the lube before starting each one. It also works on metal-cutting reciprocating and band saw blades. It reduces friction, which makes the cutting edge last longer. The product number is 70200-13, and it is available from multiple online retailers.
Vacuum Your Carpet Often
On carpet, dirt acts like thousands of little blades. Walking across a dirty carpet grinds sharp dirt particles against the yarn, making tiny nicks in the fibers. That dulls the sheen, which is why high-traffic areas appear duller than the rest of the carpet. Over time, grinding dirt will actually wear away the fibers themselves.
Bottom line: The less dirt in your carpet, the longer it will last. A good rule of thumb is to vacuum your carpet once a week. High-traffic areas will require more frequent vacuuming.
Keep Batteries Charged
Batteries can deteriorate and die if they go a long time without being charged. Charge the batteries for your boat, motorcycle or riding lawn mower at least once a month in the off-season. Another option is to hook them up to a battery maintainer. A battery maintainer won’t damage your battery like a trickle charger would. A maintainer has smart monitoring circuitry that charges the battery only when it needs it. Remove the battery and store it indoors if you live in an area with severely cold winters.
MYTH: Don’t store batteries on a concrete surface.
FACT: According to the folks at Interstate Battery, ‘Tremendous technological improvements have been made in the seals around the battery posts and vent systems, which have virtually eliminated electrolyte seepage and migration. So, it’s OK to set or store your battery on concrete.’