31 Days of Handy Home Fixes | Pretty Handy Girl

One of the best thing you can do to save money is to prevent water from getting through your home’s exterior. Now is a good time to walk around your home and look for gaps and cracks around doors, windows, trim and siding. If you see any, I’ll show you super quick way to caulk and fill them.

Here’s a big crack over our front door.

How to Caulk Cracks | Pretty Handy Girl

Gah! Two more gaps:

How to Caulk Cracks | Pretty Handy Girl

Clean off around the crack with a wet rag dipped in mild soap and water. If there’s mold or mildew, a water and bleach solution should get rid of it.

How to Caulk Cracks | Pretty Handy Girl

Thanks to my reader, Susan Cole, for this tip. If you are caulking upside down or the tube keeps slipping out of the gun, slip a rubber band around the tube and gun to hold it in place.

How to Caulk Cracks | Pretty Handy Girl

Here’s a quick video tutorial to show you how I breeze through caulking cracks and gaps:

That’s all there is to it! Now our home is protected from water and insects.

How to Caulk Cracks | Pretty Handy Girl

In case you were wondering, I was able to lean out the dormer window while keeping my feet on the floor.

How to Caulk Cracks | Pretty Handy Girl

If I had needed to lean out any further, I would have used a sturdy ladder or hired someone to do it for me. Recently I’ve been leaning (pun intended) toward hiring out any task that involves climbing higher than one story. Falling from a ladder is just too risky for this DIY Mom. Just because I can do it doesn’t mean I always will.

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31 Days of Handy Home Fixes | Pretty Handy Girl

 

Do you have a garage? Are your garage doors insulated or weather stripped? Or do you have big gaps in the sides like this:

gap_in_garage_door

If you don’t have weather stripping on your garage doors, you could be throwing away money on heating spaces above and/or next to your garage. Not to mention, making it uncomfortably cold for any of us Handy Peeps who work in the garage.

Day 26 – Weatherstrip Your Garage Doors

In an hour you can seal the gaps around your garage door. This could make a huge difference in the temperature of your garage. And you could improve the temperature in adjacent rooms. After installing the weather stripping we noticed a huge difference in the temperature of our bonus room that sits on top of the garage.

Garage Door Side and Top Weather-strip Kit costs less than $20. Be sure to measure the sides and top of your garage doors and order enough to cover.

Use the nails included in the kit to secure the garage door seal against your doors.

For a time saving tip and more detailed directions you can follow my full tutorial for installing garage door weatherstripping.

These were the resulting temperature shifts after I installed the weather stripping on our garage doors:

Before Weather Stripping:

Outside Temperature Inside Garage Temperature Temperature Difference
45˚F 55˚F 10 degrees
30˚F 45˚F 15 degrees

 

After Weather Stripping: 

Outside Temperature Inside Garage Temperature Temperature Difference
45˚F 65˚F 20 degrees
30˚F 58˚F 28 degrees

 

Go ahead and seal those gaps and enjoy a warmer garage and home this winter.

garage_doors

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31 Days of Handy Home Fixes | Pretty Handy Girl

Do you leave your crawlspace vents open or closed? The great debate ends now.

Do You Open or Close Crawlspace Vents | Pretty Handy Girl

If you guessed open, you are right. If you guessed closed, you are also right!

Crawlspace vents should be opened in the spring and closed in the fall. The reason being that you want to preserve any heat in your crawlspace in the winter. This will help protect your water pipes from freezing and keep your home a little cozier on those cold days.  Once spring arrives, go ahead and open the vents to allow better air flow in the crawlspace and to eliminate moisture build up.

Adjusting the vents should take you 5-10 minutes total.

Do You Open or Close Crawlspace Vents | Pretty Handy Girl

Usually, they will slide freely open and closed with your own hand strength.

Do You Open or Close Crawlspace Vents | Pretty Handy Girl

Occasionally you’ll run into a stubborn vent that might be rusty or stuck.  Use pliers or a wrench to grab the vent tab as close to the base as possible and gently tap on the wrench with a hammer.

Do You Open or Close Crawlspace Vents | Pretty Handy Girl

The only time you shouldn’t close your vents is if you have high radon; an appliance that can build up fumes; or excessive water and moisture problems. If you have these issues, you have bigger problems than worrying about your vents being opened or closed. Consult with an expert to remedy those situations immediately.

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31 Days of Handy Home Fixes | Pretty Handy Girl

I’m sure you already know how important it is to change your air filters in your home. As a Filtrete Ambassador, I’m happy to remind you why you should replace your Filtrete Healthy Living Ultimate Allergen Reduction MPR 1900 filters on a regular basis:

  • Helps improve air quality in your home
  • Allergen reduction from air passing through the filter
  • Clean filters allow better air flow and less stress on your heating and cooling system
  • Capture airborne microscopic particles that can carry bacteria and viruses
  • Regularly maintenance and filter changes can help maintain your system

ultra_allergen_filtrete_filter

If you’re like me it’s hard to remember when it’s time to change your air filters. I have a solution!

Two tips to help you remember to change your air filters regularly.

1. Write the date you changed the filter on the new filter. That way you can peak at the filter to see if you need to change them soon.

date-on-filter-watermark

2. Sign up for a reminder email. You can sign up for the Filtete Clean Advantage Club to get reminder emails when it’s time to change your air and/or water filters. It’s easy and they’ll email you at your preferred intervals to help you remember to change your filters.

Get Reminders to Change Your Air Filters | Pretty Handy Girl

Simply enter your filter size, the date you need your first reminder (or the date of your last filter change). Then choose how often you replace your filters (or should I say how often you should replace your filters.)

Get Reminders to Change Your Air Filters | Pretty Handy Girl

Don’t forget to add your email address and click submit.

Get Reminders to Change Your Air Filters | Pretty Handy Girl

Now sit back and don’t worry about remembering to change your air filters ever again! When it’s time, you’ll get an email from Filtrete!

Now you can spend time trying to remember other important things, like what time is Flip or Flop on? Anyone else watching this show? Is is just me or does it bother you that Christina doesn’t ever get her hands dirty. Must be a Handy Girl pet peeve. 😉

Follow Filtrete via social media on Facebook or Twitter for more tips and tricks to help create a healthier home.

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Filtrete Brand. I have the honor of being an ambassador for them and have been sharing information from  Filtrete Brand. I was given key messages to share, but all the words and thoughts are my own and additional products used in the project were selected by me.  I have been compensated for my time and for this post. I continue to work with certain brands  like the Filtrete Brand that I believe in, because of their quality and because I feel they have helpful messages for my readers. I will always disclose to you if you are reading a sponsored post. #HealthierHome #Ad

 

Other tips in the 31 Days of Handy Home Fixes series:


31 Days of Handy Home Fixes | Pretty Handy Girl

 

Is your refrigerator running? Then go catch it. Is your HVAC choking? Time to administer CPR! When was the last time you looked at your HVAC unit? Specifically the condenser which is the big box usually located outside the house.  At first glance it doesn’t look too bad, but if you peek around the back…

Is Your HVAC Choking? | Pretty Handy Girl

…you’ll find a stray vine trying to make its way inside.

Is Your HVAC Choking? | Pretty Handy Girl

In order for your HVAC system to work efficiently and live longer, it’s important to keep vegetation and leaves away from the condenser. Never plant bushes or shrubs too close to the unit.

To discourage weeds and plants from growing back lay down some mulch, rocks or other weed resistant materials. I used leftover slate slabs around our unit. It’s what I had on hand and it was FREE.

Is Your HVAC Choking? | Pretty Handy Girl

Go check your condenser and if it’s choking give it some CPR by pulling back all the weeds and shrubs.

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outdoor air conditioner & HVAC

Using a stud finder is the quickest and easiest way to find a stud. But, if you don’t have one or are too lazy to find yours (I’m often guilty of this), you can use one of these ways to find a stud.

5 Ways to Find a Wall Stud (without a stud finder) | Pretty Handy Girl

5 Ways to Find a Stud (without a Stud Finder)

1. Measure from an outlet – remove an outlet cover and inspect the outsides of the box. One side will usually be nailed to a stud.

stud-visible-from-outlet-box

Then measure out to the left or right at 16″ intervals. US building code requires wall studs to be spaced at least 16″ on center (meaning the center of the studs.) This will help you locate studs. However, recognize that in locations near doors/windows or openings there may be a stud at less than a 16″ interval.

5 Ways to Find a Stud

2. Look for popped nails or dimples on the wall – It doesn’t always happen, but in older houses you might see nail pops where the drywall was nailed to a stud. In newer construction this is less likely to happen because screws are used.

3. Look for nails in your baseboard or crown moulding – inspect your crown or baseboard moulding for nails that might indicate where it was attached to a stud.

locate-nail-in-moulding

4. Knock on the wall – You should use this method in conjunction with the methods described above. Use your knuckle to knock along the wall horizontally. A stud location will have a higher pitched sound and feel hard against your knuckle. Lack of a stud will have a lower pitch and hollow sound.

5. Use a small pin – Once you think you’ve located the stud, use a small quilter’s pin to verify that you found the stud.

Wall-mounted IKEA LILLÅNGEN Mirrored Cabinet turned Stuffed Animal Storage | Pretty Handy Girl

If the pin sinks in up to the head, there is no stud there. If the pin sinks in about 3/4″ and then stops, you found the stud.

pin-locating-studs

The pin method will save you the hassle of creating a larger hole only to realize that you missed the stud.

Okay, now go find your stud! {snicker, hee hee}

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31 Days of Handy Home Fixes | Pretty Handy Girl

It’s no picnic when you realize your home has been invaded by sugar ants. Instead of spraying your kitchen (or wherever you find them) try this Two Ingredient Ant Killer.
2 Ingredient Ant Killer | Pretty Handy Girl
Photo by Stephen Ausmus – https://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/dec04/k11622-1.htm
Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Day 17 – Two Ingredient Ant Killer

2 Ingredient Ant Killer | Pretty Handy Girl

Mix equal parts sugar and Borax into a small disposable lid. Set it out near the area of largest ant concentration or near the location they are entering your home. Caution: DO NOT put this mixture where children or pets can get to it.

Leave the mixture out for 24 – 48 hours or until you have no more ants. The ants will take the sugar and Borax back to the nest where the colony will have a feast and consequently die after intestinal distress.

Lest you think buying a box of Borax is wasteful, I’ll have another use for Borax later this month.

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31 Days of Handy Home Fixes | Pretty Handy Girl

Take out the papers  and the trash…ummm take out the trash?

foot_on_trashcan

Grrr, don’t you hate when the trash bag gets stuck in the trash can? No worries, I have an easy fix that will make taking out the trash a much easier chore. It may sound a little crazy, but it involves drilling holes.

Day 16: Put Holes in Your Trash Can

To release the suction created by a full trash bag in the trashcan you need to add some air holes. If you put the holes about an inch up from the base you won’t risk any drips on the floor if the bag leaks.

Simply drill three to four air holes into the bottom of your trash can.

drill_holes_in_trash_can

Now you can take out the papers and the trash or you don’t get no spending cash. Yakkety Yak, don’t talk back.

before_after_trashcan

This year we’ve added several chores for the kids to handle. Taking out the trash and recycling is one of their responsibilities. I’m curious, what chores do your kids have?

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31 Days of Handy Home Fixes | Pretty Handy Girl

Curtain rods, towel bars, and other wall mounted accessories are relatively easy to hang. The trick is securing them to a stud so they can hold up to the abuse. But, how often have you found that you don’t have a stud where you want it mounted? Probably 98% of the time, right? That’s where it is important to use good wall anchors (specifically for your type walls.) Today I’m talking about drywall anchors.

Day 15: Use Good Wall Anchors

You are probably thinking, “Okay, no problem. The towel bar I bought came with wall anchors. I’ll just use those.” And that would be a mistake!

use_better_anchors

Why? Because those freebie wall anchors get mangled and they won’t hold up to regular use. DO NOT USE those El Cheapo wall anchors that come with your curtain rods, shelves, towel bars, toilet paper holders, etc. In fact, don’t even save them if you don’t use them. PITCH ‘EM…NOW… JUST DO IT!

I am a big fan of the TOGGLER wall anchors because they are easy to drill into drywall and you can remove them fairly easily with a phillips head screwdriver. There are several other brands and types of wall anchors that will work just as well. When purchasing wall anchors, pay attention to the weight limit and wall types they are designed for.

Now, pin this post because friends don’t let friends use el Cheapo Wall anchors!

Good & Bad Wall Anchors | Pretty Handy Girl

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31 Days of Handy Home Fixes | Pretty Handy Girl

A clogged tub or sink is an inevitable situation for any homeowner. Before you reach for the toxic drain cleaner, try this easy and inexpensive Non-Toxic Drain Opener.

All you need is a box of baking soda and cheap white vinegar.

Non-Toxic Drain Opener | Pretty Handy Girl

Day 14: Non-Toxic Drain Opener

Remove the drain pop up and pour a LOT of baking soda into the drain.

Non-Toxic Drain Opener | Pretty Handy Girl

Pour white vinegar into the drain until it causes a bubbling reaction. Continue until the baking soda fails to bubble up.

Non-Toxic Drain Opener | Pretty Handy Girl

Turn on the hot water full blast. Let it run for at least a minute.

Non-Toxic Drain Opener | Pretty Handy Girl

Hopefully this quick and non-toxic solution will clear your drain. Need some help getting that pop up back in place, follow this tutorial.

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