April 3, 2020
Amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans have been ordered to stay at home and practice physical distancing. During these unprecedented times—whether you’re alone or cooped up with loved ones—you may be looking for ways to make your daily routine more productive. Why not use this quarantine time to tackle these easy DIY projects that will make your home healthier and more comfortable?
If you’re the type of person who is counting down the days until you can get back to your regular schedule, undertaking a few simple home improvement projects is an excellent way to use your time productively and keep your home in pristine condition. We’ve come up with 8 easy projects that can be completed in a day’s time and give your living space a much-needed refresh.
1. Change your HVAC filter
Can you remember the last time you changed your HVAC filter? According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, homeowners who use their HVAC unit year-round should inspect and consider changing the HVAC filter every three months. A dirty, clogged-up air filter forces your HVAC system to work harder than it needs to. When filters are replaced regularly, your HVAC system can run more efficiently, save energy, and help you save on your monthly energy bill.
2. Deep clean your bathroom
It should come as no surprise that bathrooms are a breeding ground for germs. High levels of moisture and condensation mean that the nearly unavoidable presence of microbial hazards especially with old or poorly designed bathrooms. Routine cleaning may keep obvious environmental dangers at bay, but a thorough deep cleaning better ensures that your bathroom is in sparkling condition.
Fighting the coronavirus means taking your handwashing seriously; however, it’s equally important to make sure all surfaces touched are disinfected. To prevent the spread of the virus and other nasty bacterias, kick off your deep-clean by tackling the most frequently touched surfaces first. These surfaces include doorknobs, faucets countertops, tabletops, and other bathroom fixtures.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s best to clean surfaces first with soap and water before disinfecting them. Check the list of approved products released by the CDC and the US Environmental Protection Agency to see if your cleaning materials are approved coronavirus pathogen-killers.
3. Install weatherstripping where needed
Weatherstripping is an easy way to seal air leaks and a mess-free alternative to traditional caulking. A drafty house wastes energy. To optimize your energy usage and spending on heating and cooling, weatherstripping windows and other draft-prone areas serve as your one-stop-shop solution.
Permanent adhesive weatherstripping is great around doors and windows that see high-traffic throughout the year. Openings that are more low-traffic are better suited for temporary, removable weather seals. When it comes to easy DIY projects for your home, weatherstripping is among the easiest and most cost-effective for the short-term and long-term.
4. Repair peeling paint inside and outside
Peeling paint is an eyesore. And the longer it festers, the worse it gets. Even though repairing peeling paint is a multi-step process, the end result will leave your walls feeling brand new.
Before diving into this easy DIY project for your home, lay down a protective tarp, dress appropriately, and use a safety mask, goggles, and gloves. Using a flat blade, scrape away at the peeling paint until you are left with an even surface. Fill interior cracks and holes with a quick-setting compound. For exterior surfaces, use a spackling paste for repairs. Sand the surface down to an equal flatness, apply a coat of primer and repaint. Once your paint job looks perfectly restored, let the wet areas dry for at least a day. Who knew home repairs while stuck at home could be so satisfying?
5. Deal with pest problems
No matter how clean you keep your household, pests can find their way in and wreak havoc! If you’re not interested in spending your shelter-in-place time with unwelcome insects or rodents, make dealing with your pest problem a top priority. Ignoring pest infestations will only lead to more costly treatments and even more headaches.
Springtime often brings the bugs back around. Use these easy, family-friendly extermination fixes to deal with common household pests:
- Ants: These annoying mini-pests hunt down food by using pheromones that leave behind a trail for other ants to follow. Despite your efforts, sweeping them back outside won’t do much in the long run. Destroy their pheromone trail by mixing one part vinegar to three parts water and applying anywhere you've tracked ants.
- Cockroaches: With all the extra time spent eating at home, food, crumbs, and leftovers are true gold mines for cockroaches. Manage the problem by being vigilant about food storage and cleaning up any food messes immediately. Cockroaches need sustenance to survive. When you deprive them of food sources, they will either flee or perish.
- Fruit flies: Don’t give up your fresh produce intake because of fruit flies! Fill a bowl with apple cider vinegar, cover with plastic wrap, and secure with a rubber band. Poke tiny holes throughout the plastic wrap to attract and trap the flies.
Depending on the pest in question, you may be able to handle the situation yourself. However, in more severe cases, calling a professional exterminator may be the right move.
6. Conduct an electrical audit
Odds are pretty likely that you’re using your electricity more today than you have in months! While you can expect a higher utility bill while you are quarantined at home, there’s no better time to take a closer look at how effectively you’re actually using electricity. Conducting an electrical audit is a simple home project that typically can be completed in about an hour. Do it yourself by following these three steps:
Step 1: Check heating and cooling systems
- Check for air leaks - As mentioned before, air leaks and drafty spaces force your air conditioner or heater system to work harder and less efficiently. To avoid wasting energy, check windows and doorways for leakage.
- Monitor hot water usage - Make an effort to evaluate how much hot water you use on a daily basis. Cutting down on the length of your shower or opting for cold-water laundry cycles are easy ways to cut down on your energy usage.
- Examine your ducts - If you use a central air system, inspect in and around duct seams and joints for drafty air leaks. Dirt streaks around ducting serve as clear indicators of existing leaks.
Step 2: Check your appliances
How old is your HVAC system? How about your water heater? Older, outdated appliances may be secret energy vampires. Consider upgrading to more energy-efficient appliances to increase your home’s overall energy performance and reduce your energy usage.
Step 3: Inspect insulation and sealing
- Evaluate your attic insulation - The standards for attic insulation have drastically changed over the past several decades. What used to be considered acceptable insulation types and installation methods have fallen out of favor and call for the re-evaluation of old home insulation. Regardless of your home’s age, check for insulation gaps around pipes, chimneys, entryways, and hatches inside your attic.
- Examine uninsulated areas - It’s common for wasted energy to go straight to uninsulated spaces. Check for air leaks wherever two different building materials meet and between walls, floors, and ceilings.
Step 4: Account for electricity waste
Just because a device isn’t currently in use doesn’t mean it isn’t actively using electricity. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, standby power accounts for up to 10% of residential energy consumption. As you complete your energy audit, be sure to make note of all plugged-in devices that don’t actually need to be powered 24/7.
7. Clean out those gutters
Unsuspecting as gutters may be, they are an integral piece to your home maintenance, especially for those living in wetter climates. Gutter systems control the flow of rainwater and protect your roof, walls, and foundation so long as they are well-kept. A gutter congested with leaves, sticks and other debris can lead to a leaky roof or even interior water damage to your home.
Fortunately, cleaning out your gutters can be an easy project to undertake while quarantined at home. All you’ll need is a ladder, a bucket, gloves, and a hose that can safely reach your roof gutters.
8. Prep your lawn and garden
Even if your winter season is mild, winter weather can leave grass, trees, and greenery weak and starved for nutrients. Taking the necessary steps to revive your lawn and garden to its former glory takes a little bit of TLC and a healthy dose of patience.
The first step is preparing your lawn and garden by cleaning up the leaves, twigs and other debris that winter left behind. While a leaf blower makes the excavation process simpler, a deep raking will remove any excessive thatch that can hinder your lawn’s health. (And, you get to enjoy a healthy workout!) Once you’ve cleared the winter debris, mulch those fallen leaves into the soil, and watch your lawn flourish.
With these eight easy DIY home project ideas in your back pocket, your home is sure to be in the best condition you’ve seen in years. For larger, more ambitious projects, like installing solar panels or cool roofing, check to see if PACE financing can help you along the way.