Little things every homeowner should know how to do

Apr 20, 2023 | Homeowner Tips

It’s always the little things, right?  We know what to do with big projects – we get help. 

So what about the little projects that we really should know how to do ourselves?  These challenges are real, so read on to learn how to do something you may not know how to do (yet).


How to use a laser level.

A laser level is a tool that uses laser beams to measure and guide you as you work. It’s basically a cross between a compass and an inclinometer, but it can do so much more than just tell you which way is north or south.

Laser levels are ideal for home improvement projects like leveling floors or plumbing, but they’re also helpful if you’re doing any kind of construction work at all. You could use them for hanging wallpapers, installing a long shelf, building a cabinet or deck and putting up tile for your kitchen’s backsplash. What’s more, you could also use laser levels to hang pictures in your home.  Here’s how:

  1. Set up the laser level on a tripod for it to start giving accurate signals.
  2. Point it at the point where you set the first frame.
  3. Once the laser’s dot meets that point, turn the level around towards the other wall where you want to hang the picture.
  4. Mark the angle on the wall with a chalk.
  5. Once you have drawn a mark, take out the hammer and using it, hammer a nail into the exact spot which you had marked earlier.
  6. Afterward, secure the frame of the picture on the nail and by using the laser, align its top.


How to use a stud finder.

A stud finder is a handy tool for finding the studs in your wall. Studs are wooden support beams that run vertically through the walls of your home and help to hold up the structure.  When handing heavy things to the wall, you need to hammer into a stud so it doesn’t fall off.

Stud finders come in many different types, but they all perform the same function: they use an electromagnet to detect metal nails or screws embedded in drywall or plasterboard (the two most common materials used for walls). When you press down on your nail with a hammer, it leaves behind a small amount of metal which can be detected by this kind of device.

The best way to use one is simply by holding it against each area where you think there might be a stud until it indicates that there isn’t one there.


How to Measure Odd-shaped Objects.

To measure an odd-shaped object, you’ll need to use a measuring tape and the formula:

Overall Size = Length + Girth

In this case, the length is the most elongated side of the object, and the circumference is the measurement around the most convex part of the package (perpendicular to the length). If you are shipping a guitar case, you need to measure it around the most convex side of the body.


How to use caulk to seal cracks in windows, doors and sinks.

Caulk is a great way to seal the cracks in windows, doors and siding. It’s also useful for preventing air leaks around windows and doors. Caulking will help keep your home more energy efficient by preventing warm or cool air from escaping through these openings.

Bob Vila says, “All the process requires is good aim and patience. Though some home repair novices might be intimidated by the contraption, it’s actually a simple tool to use—we’ll show you how with this guide on how to use a caulk gun.”

There are a few steps to this so check out the link above for instructions.  


How to check if your hot water heater is working properly.

If you have a hot water heater, it’s important to check that it’s working properly. You can do this by making sure the pilot light is lit and that the thermostat isn’t set too high or low, which could cause problems with your system. Also make sure there are no leaks in any pipes leading into or out of your hot water heater.


How to clean out your dryer vent.

A dryer vent can be a fire hazard if it’s not cleaned regularly. The lint that builds up inside of your dryer’s exhaust pipe can catch on fire and spread to other parts of your home, causing extensive damage. To keep this from happening, clean out your dryer’s vent once every six months or so. 

Here’s how:

  1. Unplug the machine before starting work on it; you don’t want to get shocked when working around live wires!
  2. Remove any covers on top of the machine (like those covering vents) by unscrewing them with an appropriate screwdriver or wrench. 
  3. Move it away from the wall and remove any tape or clamps attaching the ventilation hose to the vent on the back of the unit. In some cases a screwdriver may be required to complete this step.
  4. Gently clean your dryer’s ventilation hose by using a dryer cleaning brush to swab debris from both ends of the pipe. If you have access to a vacuum with a hose, you may use it to further remove any dust or lint caught in hard to reach places.
  5. Clean the exterior vent.   Remove the vent cover from the exterior of your home. Using your dryer cleaning brush, wipe away dust from the ductwork and use a vacuum with a hose to clear out any remaining debris. Replace the vent cover when complete.
  6. Reconnect the dryer.


How to inspect electrical outlets, switches and fuses.

Make sure there is no loose or broken wiring.  Check the outlet for a ground fault interrupter (GFI). These prevent electric shocks by shutting off power when they detect a leak in the grounding system. If you have an older home and don’t know if it has GFI protection, install one –they’re inexpensive ($15-$20) and easy to install yourself.

Check your polarized plug(s) regularly–if any part of the prongs are bent or missing, replace them.  You can buy replacement plugs at any hardware store for about $1 each; just look for those with “Polarized” printed on them somewhere near the top edge of one side of the plug body (usually black).


These are just a few things a homeowner should know how to do.  Read here for steps to inspect and test your home security system >>