21 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.
A Shop Vacuum with Features Galore
The canister is clear, so you know when it needs emptying, and the kickstand holds the lid up, so you can change the filter without dragging dust all over the place. But I love the wheels best of all. This thing glides across the floor like a curling stone across the ice.
Josh Risberg, Lead Carpenter
It’s a Utility Light, Lantern, Flashlight and More…
You can buy the Cat brand CT6515 Rechargeable Utility Light/Lantern for about $45 at some home centers, hardware stores and online retailers. You can also find them at truck stops (truckers love them). Turn on that light bulb thought bubble of yours with other work light solutions.
A Toilet Plunger to Love
First of all, 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. All of that plunging bliss will set you back only 14 bucks at The Home Depot.
Or if you’re toilet is running, find the fix for it.
One for All
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. Buy a 9-oz. tube of Gorilla Construction Adhesive for $8 at a home center or hardware store.
Check out construction adhesives that won’t drool.
If you’re in the market for a new doorbell, and even if you’re not, check out the Honeywell Wireless Doorbell Kit. It has six high-quality chimes to choose from. The volume is adjustable, and more than one doorbell and button can be used together.
But what we love most is the fact that it can be lifted from the wall mount and brought with you into your shop, out in the backyard or wherever. So if you’re waiting on a pizza delivery or the cable guy, you don’t have to stay chained up inside the house. It has a 225-ft. range and a flashing icon to alert you in case you’re wearing headphones.
Smartphone-friendly Garage Door Opener: Chamberlain HD950WF
Smarter Smart Bulbs
GE has a new line of LED lightbulbs, simply called ‘C,’ that can be directly controlled with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth; no central hub necessary. There are two types of bulbs in the ‘C’ line: The ‘C Life’ is an all-purpose light perfect for the kitchen, living room or office. The ‘C Sleep’ bulb has been designed to support 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. Who couldn’t use a better night’s sleep?
Using an app, the lights can be dimmed and set to a timer as a group or individually. When run for three hours a day, the bulbs should last 20 years! GE has launched a new website to market this product directly to consumers. A starter set that includes two ‘C Life’ bulbs. Two ‘C Sleep’ bulbs are also available. Learn more and order some bulbs here.
Fast Fix for Pet Stains
Be sure to have these pet cleaning tips in your backpocket as well.
Sam Larson, Field Editor
Eliminate Stinky Gasoline Smells
Find out how to properly store gasoline.
Josh Risberg, Set Builder
Dissolve Mortar Like Magic
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 applications, but it really works. We tried it on some vinyl siding, and it performed as advertised. The best part is that it’s safe; safe enough to apply without gloves. It also won’t harm sensitive surfaces like auto paint. Some pro masons use it to clean their tools. Visit a hardware store to buy a bottle for $13, or locate a retailer at sakrete.com.
Find out how to repair motar joints.
HDPE, a Fast and Maintenance-Free Storage Solution
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, and with the help of a buddy (who probably owes you anyway), you can build this maintenance-free shed. Assembly requires only a couple ladders, a few simple hand tools and afterward perhaps a cold beverage or two. The hardest part might be creating a flat spot in your yard.
The Big Max has lockable doors, and the HDPE panels are rugged enough to resist those wayward baseballs from the neighbor kid. It’s available at Home Depot and other retailers for about $600.
Find out how to fit everything into your shed.
Efficient Bike Storage
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. I’ve been using mine for almost a year now, and I love it. You can buy a Saris Cycle Glide for $245 at bike stores or online.
If this style isn’t to your liking check out other bike storage ideas.
Jeff Gorton, Associate Editor
A Better Toilet Paper Holder
If you’re having problems with your toilet flushing, check out our repair tips.
Mark Petersen, Associate Editor
Gary Wentz, Editor-in-Chief
Snap-On USB Outlets
Step up your technology game but updating your home with smart appliances.
‘Bags so thick, they stand on their own.’ At least that’s what Gorilla Glue says. And they do, but you can’t just throw stuff in there like you would with a garbage can. Gorilla Glue engineered the bags with a square base and super-heavy-duty plastic, and if you fold a little cuff at the top and treat them gently, they do stand up. These 42-gallon bags are incredibly tough?just the thing if you have heavy-duty trashing to do. The Self-Standing Bags cost about $13 for a dozen.
Unplugged Housekeeping Assistant
The fully charged 36-volt lithium battery lasts 17 minutes—an indicator light lets you know the remaining battery capacity. A lightweight upright/handheld won’t replace the full-size plug-in vacuum that I use for heavy cleaning (accompanied by heavy complaining), but it makes a midweek touch-up easy. Plus, you’ll love not tripping over the cord. The 36V MAX Lithium Stick Vac is available at home centers, many stores and online.
Firefighter in a Can
I recently read about a kitchen fire that was extinguished by a couple of inconspicuous fire-suppression cans attached to the inside of the range hood. The fire chief said the cans prevented the stovetop fire from reaching the cooking oil stored in the cabinet directly above: ‘Things would have gotten ugly fast if that had happened.’
Fire suppression cans are filled with bicarbonate of soda and are opened up by a heat-sensitive actuator. It takes two cans to protect one stovetop. They attach to the range hood with magnets. Since most home fires start in the kitchen, $50 for the two cans seems like cheap insurance. StoveTop FireStop is one brand that can be found at some home centers and online. Even if you install fire-suppression cans in your range hood, it’s still a bad idea to store cooking oil above the stovetop.
Mark Petersen, Contributing Editor
Sure, a funnel works great at keeping fluids from spilling all over, but when you’re done pouring and pull it out of the hole, the fluid leftover in the funnel drips all over the place. I use this Hopkins FloTool On-Off Refill Spout (No. 10101) to keep that from happening. I have one on my windshield washer fluid and antifreeze containers and one on my gallon jug of chain saw bar oil. There’s no mess and no cap to fumble around with?just twist and pour. Hopkins FloTool also makes a Spill Saver Oil Spout (No. 10107) that fits quarts of oil. I’m not sure I know where my funnels are anymore.
Mark Petersen, Associate Editor
The Only Tool Set You Need
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, simply 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 1 in. You can purchase the kit at The Home Depot and other retailers.
Learn some tricks to loosen nuts, bolts and screws that are tricky.
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. One roll costs $35 to $125. Check out the 90 patterns and watch the installation video at tempaperdesigns.com.
Learn how to remove wallpaper if there’s some in your new house you don’t like.