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For most people, the home is the biggest investment. Naturally, you want to protect that investment. Rather than waiting for what would have been a small inexpensive repair to grow into a much larger, more costly expense, you need to take preventive maintenance steps. If it has been a while since your home has been assessed, now is the time to have it checked out. Learn how Home Assessments can boost your Kansas City area home’s value.
How to DIY it: You should already be emptying the lint trap before every load of laundry. To do a thorough cleaning of the dryer and its vent duct system, unplug the machine (and turn off the gas valve if it has one). Pry off the access panel on the front (try a putty knife covered with duct tape to prevent scratching) and vacuum around the motor and heating element (above). Then carefully disconnect the vent duct tubing from the back of the dryer and use a dryer vent brush (about $10 at home centers; look for one that also cleans refrigerator coils) to pull out any accumulated lint. Aim to do this at least once a year.
How well do the franchise chains perform? One Wall Street Journal reporting team did an informal assessment by hiring handymen all over the United States and asking them to fix a wide range of problems, from a relatively routine leaky faucet to a sticky door. The reporter concluded that "with few licensing requirements and standards for the industry, prices are all over the board." One quote was ten times as large as another. Further, the reporter concluded "A big corporate name is no guarantee of quality or speedy service." One corporate firm took three weeks to fix a stuck door. Service varied from spotty to good, with complaints about unreturned phone calls, service people standing on dining room chairs, leaving holes between wood planking, but liked getting multiple jobs done instead of just one. Customers liked handymen wearing hospital booties (to avoid tracking dirt in houses). The reporter chronicled one experience with repairing a water-damaged ceiling. A franchise firm fixed it for $1,530; a second (non-franchise local handyman) fixed a similar ceiling for $125. The reporter preferred the second worker, despite the fact that he "doesn't have a fancy van -- or carry proof of insurance". Tips for selecting a good handyman include: ask questions, get written estimates on company stationery, make sure handymen guarantee their work, pay with credit cards or checks because this provides an additional record of each transaction, check references and licenses, review feedback about the contractors from Internet sites. To find a competent worker, one can seek referrals from local sources such as a school or church or office park, to see if a staff handyman does projects on the side, as well as ask friends for referrals; a general contractor might have workers who do projects on the side as well. Further, one can try out a new handyman with easy projects such as cleaning gutters to see how well they perform.
While you’re at it: If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, consider getting one. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an Energy Star–rated model can save you about $180 in heating and cooling costs each year. You can buy one for about $40 and install it yourself. It’s a relatively easy job; no rewiring required. On the other hand, these are home improvement projects you should never, ever DIY.
How to DIY it: This job can be messy, so protect nearby surfaces by covering them with plastic or cardboard. Spray the springs with garage door lubricant (about $7 at home centers). Don’t use oil, grease, or other lubricants. They may be cheaper, or you may have them on hand already, but they won’t work as well and tend to pick up dust and grit—just what you don’t want on moving parts.
Often on the bottom of people's to-do list is home maintenance chores, such as landscaping, window and gutter cleaning, power washing the siding and hard-scape, etc. However, these maintenance chores pay for themselves over time. Often, injury could occur when operating heavy machinery or when climbing on ladders or roofs around your home, so if an individual is not in the proper physical condition to accomplish these chores, then they should consult a professional. Lack of maintenance will cost more due to higher costs associated with repairs or replacements to be made later. It requires discipline and learning aptitude to repair and maintain the home in good condition, but it is a satisfying experience to perform even seemingly minor repairs.
Here’s a quick fix for a drawer front that’s pulling off. Cut a couple of lengths of quarter-round the same height as the drawer sides. Hold them in place while you drill a couple of holes through the sides and front of the drawer box. Dab some polyurethane glue (wood glue doesn’t stick well to finished surfaces) on the pieces of quarter-round before screwing them into place. Here’s how to fix sticky wooden drawers.
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