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Twelve Simple (and fairly inexpensive) Home Repairs to Beat a Winter Slump

Whether you are a new home owner, looking to sell your home in the near future, or maybe just bored of being stuck inside, there are a variety of simple home fixes, upgrades, and repairs you can bide your time until warmer weather returns. These small accomplishments can really help bring a sunny outlook to a gloomy season. The Turfmates team has searched the web to find what we think are the twelve most do-able, cost effective, and return investment projects to keep you busy while the snow falls!

To aid in efficiency, make a list and schedule of when you want to tackle these tasks.  This will help you plan your trip to the store (keep you out of the cold), and help you check things right off your to-do list with speed.

1. Cleanse Your Home of Clutter

Made popular recently by Netflix series with Marie Kondo, people are purging their homes of any items that don’t bring them joy.  When spring rolls around, you’ll feel an extra step fresher by ridding yourself of junk and clutter.  Don’t waste your time spring cleaning by decluttering now. Our suggestion is to start small.  Pick one room or one closet so the process doesn’t get overwhelming.  Fill up a box or two to resell or donate and follow through before taking on the rest of the house.

2. Make Use of Your Screwdriver

This is a simple project that can often be a quick one too. Fixing loose handles or hinges throughout your house is usually just the process of tightening them. But if a screw just spins in place, try making the hole fit the screw better by stuffing in a toothpick coated with glue, or switching to a larger screw.  You can silence squeaky door hinges and eliminate squeaks by squirting powdered graphite where the hinge turns. You may also want to check loose toilet paper and towel holders.  Unscrew the fixtures and see what kind of anchor was used for the first installation.  More than likely, it’s a flimsy, push-in type plastic drywall anchor. You can pull that out (or just poke it through the wall) and replace it with something more substantial. We suggest toggle bolts for strength or threaded types such as EZ Anchor are easy to install.

3. Replace Your Detector Batteries

Another quick and easy fix is to spend a few minutes switching batteries in your detectors. Whether you have just a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector too, it’s a common practice to change them once a year.  Why not use the season when you spend most of your time inside? To avoid that annoying chirp of the battery dying that always seems to happen in the middle of the night, many fire departments recommend replacing them all at the same time.

4. Filter Clean Out

Your appliances need an declutter of sorts every so often, so we suggest taking an afternoon to give your stove and dryer an easy upgrade.  You can start by removing the vent on your stove and washing it. By removing the grease you’ll increase the efficiency of your exhaust vent; plus, if a kitchen stovetop fire breaks out, this will help keep the flames from spreading.  To do a similar task with your dryer, you’ll want to start by pulling your dryer out from the wall. Disconnect the vent pipe, and vacuum lint out of the pipe and the place where it connects to the machine. Also, wipe lint off your exterior dryer vent so the flap opens and closes easily. (You’ll need to go outside for that, so bundle up…but it’s quick.) Remember that vents clogged with old dryer lint are a leading cause of house fires.

5. Add Insulation, See Instant Returns

Insulating your home’s attic is one of the best winter home improvement projects that pays you back quickly. It may not be the most exciting project but saving money and making your home more comfortable and eco-friendlier is most definitely a plus. Proven to produce the largest return on investment (116.9 percent) for homeowners, this project will not only help to lower your energy bill (anywhere from 5-10 percent), but it’s also eligible for tax credits (up to $500). Although insulating a home’s attic may seem pricey, done right, it can be tackled for less than $400. You can get an idea of how big of a project you’re looking at if you crawl up to your attic and take a look around.  If you can see the floor joists, you need some added insulation. You can also add some insulation in the basement and in crawlspaces to prevent heat loss.  If your home is in need of insulation additions, this is something you can do in the winter and use as a selling point in the spring.

6. Seal it Up

One of the least expensive home improvement projects a homeowner can undertake is to seal openings and air leaks in the home. Taking the time to seal seams around windows and doors with caulk, waterproof sealant or weather-stripping will not only improve your energy consumption but lower your utility costs as well. According to EnergyStar, sealing leaks can improve the overall quality of your home and help to fix many common problems.  If you want to reduce the noise from outside, control humidity better, and lessen the pollen, dust, and insects from entering, sealing up these cracks is your best bang for your buck.

7. Program and Save

You can really explore a wide variety of price ranges with the next project, but whether you side with an inexpensive model or higher end, there is data to back up the home savings a programmable thermostat can have. Customizing your heating and cooling to fit your needs and automating the process can save you money and enhance your home experience. 

Nest Labs, a home automation producer, released a report last year revealing that homeowners accrued 10-12 percent savings on heating and 15 percent savings on cooling by upgrading to a programmable thermostat. Although every manufacturer has different savings claims, Nest users reported saving between $10-$20 per month. Most definitely worth the investment to keep your warm without burning up your wallet.

8. Fresh Coat Goes a Long Way

One of the most popular winter projects is adding a little fresh paint to the interior of your home and is there anything a little paint can’t fix? Paint averages about $30 a gallon, but this indoor improvement project can offer significant value to your home. A new coat of paint can dramatically lift your mood and change the feel of an entire room. For homeowners looking to sell, white painted surroundings offer a blank canvas to potential homebuyers. It also doesn’t hurt that interior painting offers one of the higher returns on investments (ROI). That said, focus on areas of importance and leave them enough money for a quality primer. Make sure you crack open the windows to let in fresh air while you’re painting. Or, consider going with an eco-friendly, low-VOC paint so you don’t have to worry about breathing in toxic fumes.

9. Give a Look to Your Doors and Floors

There are several simple DIY projects to add upgrades to your kitchen and bathrooms.  These often make a big difference in not just keeping with the current trends but making both areas of your home more useful, appealing, and functional.   Start with a good deep clean.  Get the grout sparkling and erase unsightly mildew.  Quick coat of paint or replacing an outdated sink are fairly easy projects and, once finished, you will be able to appreciate them every day. A bigger project, but one of the more affordable options is adding backsplash to one of both of these rooms.  This added touch will give some extra personality to the room’s look, and can help accessorize or emphasize the countertops, fixtures, and appliances. Depending on the size of the area  and type of tile you want to use will depend on your cost, but with a steady hand and a healthy dose of YouTube tutorials, you can make some incredible changes. 

10. Up Your Status with Crown Molding

For not as much as you may think, adding crown molding to your living spaces is a huge improvement that fancies up your house and looks great when it’s time to sell.  The crown molding itself is relatively inexpensive, but if you’re not wanting to tackle installation yourself, you may want to shop for the best price. If you’re ready to brave the challenge, you want to make sure you have a table saw or are able to rent one from a home improvement store, like Home Depot.  This small detail can have a big impact on overall room detail and style.

11. Check Your Doors and Floors

Doors can have a huge visual impact on a home, and you can more easily (and more cost effective) refurbish them.  It might be your front door needs a pop of color to add some zeal to your home, or your bedroom and bathroom doors that you want to add simple detail or a fresh coat of paint, or all three!  You can make them look more modern or more expensive by installing decorative door knobs or adding molding to create some dimension. 

Now check your floors. Putting in carpet is a great winter project because it can increase the comfort of your home dramatically. However, this project does require several days with little access to the rooms being carpeted.  Maybe adding carpet is your ideal way to upgrade floors and you’d like to settle for stopping the squeaky hardwood floors. This issue seems to arise more in the winter when the cold temperatures cause most materials to shrink.  Anti-squeak repair kits, such as Squeeeeek No More, feature specially designed screws that are easy to conceal. A low-cost alternative: Dust a little talcum powder into the seam where floorboards meet — the talcum acts as a lubricant to quiet boards that rub against each other.

12.  Get A Jumpstart on Curb Appeal

This is an ideal project to start before winter actually hits.  Fertilizing your home’s landscape is an affordable winter project and entails providing trees, shrubs, and grass some extra TLC to prepare for the harsher winter months.  Even though the winter months seems to be off season for true curb appeal, it is a great time to plan for the vision you’d like to create once the warm air returns.  This allows plenty to time to budget, educated yourself for DIY outdoor projects, and prepare a step by step action plan to spruce up the outdoor living spaces.

 At Turfmates we don’t just want to help you find the perfect home, we want to help you keep it that way, or get ready to sell it when you’re ready to move on.  Dive into some of these winter upkeep and upgrade projects to keep you busy.  Spring will be here before you know it!