A few months ago, you probably had a grand vision of tackling multiple home-improvement projects because you were spending so much time at home. Maybe you thought you’d declutter your closets, paint a piece of furniture or plant a pandemic veggie garden.
But if none of that panned out, don’t despair. Here are six easy home-maintenance projects you can do in an hour that will go a long way toward keeping your home in good condition. With the lazy days of summer just around the corner, there's no time like the present to check these essential tasks off your list.
SWAP OUT LIGHT BULBS
Take a tour around your home and look for any light bulbs that may have burnt out, don't match or give off a weird glow that’s too white, too bright or too dim, suggests Teris Pantazes, co-owner of Settle Rite Home Improvement.
“If you still have a few old bulbs, even fluorescents, update them with newer LED ones that come in warmer or softer tones and are less expensive than they were even two years ago,” Pantazes says.
Matching bulbs keeps the lighting consistent and makes your home feel more cohesive and inviting.
When caulk in your kitchen and bathroom gets old, it can crack and discolor, making the whole space look worn out and dirty, even when it’s not.
“Cracked caulk can also let water seep in, causing water damage over time,” says Donovan Gow, owner of House and Tool. “Luckily, laying down new caulk is very easy. Depending on how much caulking you’re doing, this entire project can be completed for less than $40.”
You’ll just need acrylic latex caulk (which works best in water-heavy spots like the bathroom and behind the kitchen sink), a caulk gun, a scraper or utility knife and painter’s tape to help you lay a nice straight line.
CHANGE THE HVAC AIR FILTER
This is one of those tasks that everyone seems to forget about, Pantazes says, but, ideally, you should do it every two months. Indoor air quality is especially important these days.
“First, verify the size of your filter by opening the cover plate on your air conditioner,” he says. After installing a new one, Pantazes says, “your air will be cleaner and healthier and there will be less bacteria.”
CHECK THE SMOKE ALARMS
Keeping your home and family safe in case of emergency is always a priority. Check all your smoke detectors to make sure they’re working properly. First, test your alarms, then clean them, if needed, following the manufacturer’s specifications. Then replace any batteries as necessary.
“If a smoke detector is over 10 years old, or does not have an install date, replace it,” Pantazes says. He suggests buying a new one with a 10-year, maintenance-free battery, per current code.
He also advises having at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home. “It should be mounted in a room that is below the level with your bedrooms,” he says. “If your home is one level, place detectors near the floor, since carbon monoxide is a heavy gas and sinks.”
TOUCH UP WALLS AND TRIM
If you have any leftover paint from previous jobs, go room-to-room and refresh any spots that need coverage. “Flat paints do not really fade, so you can walk around any room with a brush and the paint can touching up any scuffs,” Pantazes says. “If you have gloss or semi-gloss, you can repaint the trim.”
No leftover paint? Use a Magic Eraser to gently rub off imperfections such as marker and crayon scribbles if your kids have been particularly artsy during quarantine. Your walls will look as good as new.
SPRUCE UP OUTDOOR AREAS
With summer approaching, you can start preparing your outdoor space for relaxing — and for entertaining when the time comes. When friends and family can safely visit again, being outside together may be a smarter choice than having everyone congregate indoors.
“A quick hose spray and wipe down may be all you need,” says Elizabeth Dodson, co-founder of HomeZada. “Or, you can use a can of spray paint to get your outdoor furniture looking brand new.” She also suggests pressure-washing any outdoor cooking areas or deep-cleaning your grill so that you can prepare meals al fresco.