What is your least favorite task to do as a homeowner? Cleaning gutters? Caulking and sealing? Clearing slow draining pipes or backed up pipes? Painting? Wallpapering? Ask ten homeowners what their most annoying home owner tasks are and you will probably get ten different answers. For many, the deciding factor is the age of the home and whether or not the previous owners (if any) did any regular maintenance.
Others may say that seasonal tasks are the most annoying, for example, how many times have you finished raking all the fall leaves up into a pile only for a) a strong wind to blow them all over the yard again; b) a young child to take a running leap into the middle of them; c) a dog to take a running leap into the middle of them; or d) an adult old enough to know better, but young enough at heart not to care, take a running leap into the middle of them?
Here are some tips and suggestions on how to face those tasks that you hate with a smile.
They tend to be the things that you never think of. That is, of course, until they are so filled with leaves and debris that you can actually see a tree growing from them, or they back water up under your roofing shingles until the ceiling over your wife’s antique sewing machine table left to her by her great-great-great-grandmother falls in and floods your entire living room. Not to mention ruining the antique sewing machine table, which she probably won’t ever let you forget.
The purpose of storm gutters is to redirect water runoff from your roof (from rain or melting snow and ice) away from the foundation of your house to prevent any erosion issues. Making sure that they are free and clear of debris and that the downspouts are not blocked is what you want to look for. While it might not be the easiest job because of how high up your gutters are, it is one of those tasks that if done routinely gets easier with time.
The trick to making your gutters easier to clean is to not let them get so built up from neglect. You may have one big clean-up to start (unless you decide to just yank them all down and put up new ones), but once you know you are starting with clean gutters the rest is easy. Depending on your weather, you may choose to clean them at the end of each season, with checking them after each strong storm.
Drains, Pipes, and Plumbing
Think of the plumbing in your home as being the arteries. When one of your arteries gets blocked, you certainly don’t feel very well. If the pipes in your home get backed up and clogged, you still don’t feel well because of the mess it can make both in and out of your home. Depending on the age of your home and the type of pipes used in building it, sometimes no matter what you do to keep them clean you will have problems no matter what due to age and corrosion.
The health of your pipes depends more on what you don’t put in them, than it does with what you do put in them. Drain cleaners are usually a temporary fix to a long term problem. If you constantly have issues with pipes getting clogged or backed up, your best bet is to contact a certified plumber who can correctly diagnose your house’s artery problems. Apart from aging pipes, you could have tree roots that have grown into your pipes and any number of issues.
One home remedy recommended even by Mr. Rooter is in your kitchen pantry right now. Sprinkle baking soda in your drains followed by a little bit of vinegar. Cover the drain with a towel or plug that will force the bubbling action down into the pipe. Again, a temporary fix to what might be a long term problem, but much safer for you and your family than other caustic chemical products.
Caulking and Sealing
Caulk is one of those messy jobs that you absolutely have to do at times to either seal windows from the cold, or to prevent water from either getting in, or getting out (as is the case with caulking around shower stalls and bathtub fixtures). Caulk is available in different forms, from tubs to tubes that you use with a caulking gun (think push-up popsicles or ice creams). For some projects, you will want to a clear silicone sealant.
In order to ensure that the new caulk will cure and stick, preparation is key to making it easier. All old caulk and sealant has to be removed. If there is any mold or mildew, that will need to be treated with a bleach solution and given time to dry before applying new caulk. One of the best pieces of advice when it comes to using caulk or silicone to seal anything is to wear gloves! Caulk might wash off easily, but once silicone gets on your bare hands it is very difficult to get off.
The real trick to making those Home Owner Tasks less annoying is just to do them often, or on a regularly scheduled basis, such as with each season change or quarterly. Once they become routine habits, like checking batteries in smoke alarms, or setting your clocks forward or back twice a year for daylight savings.
Melanie works full time at Tuft & Needle and blogs part time evenings and weekends when her daughter is working on the cars with her dad!