Here are our favorite home improvement life hacks

While scrolling through Facebook, you’ve no doubt seen many videos showing you home improvement life hacks: tips for doing maintenance and repair projects with existing tools in the home. The home improvement life hacks out there run the gamut from the painfully obvious—using a piece of cardboard to lay on while working underneath your car—to the silly and impractical, like using a plastic coke bottle as a paint roller.

However, in between these two extremes are some really great, time- and money-saving tips that really can help homeowners handle their home maintenance easier. Here are some of our favorites:

Make your toilet more water-smart

If you have an older toilet that uses far too much water with every flush, you should take immediate action to reduce this waste. Not only is it bad for the environment, but it’s also a contributing factor in your high utility bills.

If you’re looking for a long-term fix, we recommend you give us a call and have our team install a high-efficiency or dual-flush toilet. Modern toilets use far less water with every flush. Dual-flush models, in particular, give homeowners the flexibility of using either a half-flush or a full flush. Upgrading the toilets in your master and guest bathrooms is literally one of the easiest ways to conserve water. You’ll never have to think about it again.

In the event that you’re not in the position at the moment to swap out toilets, you can still take action. Here’s an old, yet still effective, trick. If you place something heavy and solid in the toilet’s tank, it displaces water, reducing the amount emptied out with every flush. Typically, homeowners use a brick for this purpose. However, this hack has its limits: since a “brick of water” is not a precise measurement of liquid, you may find that the water displacement is either too great (and there’s not enough left for the flush) or too little (and you’re still wasting water).

Clear your own clogs

There’s nothing more frustrating than a clogged shower or sink drain. The good news is that there are a wide variety of well-known home remedies for clearing out drains. First, there’s the old baking soda and vinegar trick. As we all know from our middle school science fair projects, the combination of baking soda and vinegar creates a chemical reaction.

This is typically all it takes to eat away at weak clogs in your kitchen or bathroom sink drain, so—if you have the ingredients on hand—give it a shot. You’ll typically find that this handy combination works well for weak clogs, but does little or nothing to deep, set clogs. For those, you’ll need to bring in a plumber.

For hair-raising shower drain clogs, you might need to use a different approach. Remove the drain and use a metal hanger, taken apart so that it’s a rod with a metal hook at the end, to fish out trapped hair. This is sort of a jury-rigged version of a plumber’s snake tool.

It does have its limitations, however: your hanger “snake” can only go so far into the drain, leaving deeper clogs untouched. Again, this is the point at which calling a professional plumber makes a lot of sense.

Save money on your energy bills

If you’re sick and tired of high electric and gas bills, it’s time to take action. The best thing you can do to make your home more energy-efficient is reducing the cooling or heating that gets wasted year-round. In most homes, a good part of the cooled and heated air produced by the air conditioner or furnace is lost through the walls, attic, doors, and windows. You can keep more of this cooled and heated air inside by tackling some easy home improvement projects.

For instance, re-caulk around your home’s windows. As window frames become loose with age, drafts of outside air can get in and conditioned inside air can get out. Stopping this back-and-forth airflow will greatly reduce your energy costs. Do the same to your doors and door frames by applying weatherstripping around the perimeter.

Of course, your windows and doors are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the potential energy-saving projects out there. Talk to a local HVAC professional in your area about adding more insulation to your attic. Since heat rises, much of the winter heating produced in your home is lost through the attic and the roof. Adding more insulation can help trap this heat energy in your home, reducing the strain on your furnace and the overall energy used.

Know when to call in a professional

We’re all for handy DIY projects, but please know your limits. When it comes to your HVAC systems, your pipes and plumbing, your electrical wiring, and your roof, never try to take on repairs or maintenance yourself. Given the high stakes—not to mention the potential danger of electrocution or falling off your roof—these projects are best left to a professional.

At Wagner, we’re proud to be the home services company Albuquerque trusts. Since 1928, our team has been helping homeowners with their HVAC, plumbing, and electrical needs. For friendly service you can count on, contact us today.