1. Porcelain sink stains: Use a toilet cleaning product and scrub in circles. If that doesn’t work, try the tried-and-true Bar Keeper’s Friend. As a last resort, use a pumice stick.
2. Fix curling wallpaper: Use an artist’s brush to apply wallpaper repair adhesive to wall. Press into place with a seam roller, then remove excess with a damp sponge.
3. Patch a gutter hole: Using tin snips, cut away any rusted or corroded metal surrounding the hole. Make a patch using the same material as your gutters (aluminum, vinyl, copper, zinc, etc.) several inches larger than the hole. Glue the patch inside the gutter with a bead of roofing cement.
4. Seal air leaks around an outlet cover: Whatever you do, do NOT fill the electrical box with foam. It traps heat from wires and becomes a fire hazard. Instead, remove the plate and caulk the seam where the electrical box meets the wall board. Get a foam gasket and place it around the receptacle, then reinstall the cover/plate.
5. Get rid of a bee’s or hornet’s nest: After dark (when the insects are less active or dormant), take a jet-spray insecticide and soak the entrance to the nest, standing 10 to 15 feet away for safety. If the hive shows no activity the next day, throw the nest away.
6. Get rid of stubborn weeds: Instead of hand-weeding, cut the weed to the ground. When it begins to grow leaves again, paint an herbicide like Roundup on the leaves with a foam brush, coating them all. The weed, including the roots, should die completely.
7. Measure without a tape measure: Use household items like a dollar bill (6 inches long), a credit card (2 inches wide), and a soda can (5 inches tall).
8. Get rid of ants: Don’t just poison the visible ants. Set out bait (or have an exterminator do it) for them to carry back to the entire colony.
9. Speed up compost: Take a bit of last year’s completed compost and add it to the new pile. It already possesses the fungi that jumpstart the process.
10. Thaw a frozen pipe: Use a heating tool such as a hair dryer, a heating pad, or a space heater and point it at the pipe. Do NOT use a blow torch!
11. Touch up flat paint: Flat paint is incredibly unforgiving. To do a touchup without it looking obvious, use a foam brush or roller and paint with vertical strokes. Apply the thinnest coat possible.
12. Clean window screens: Vacuum both sides of the screen with a brush attachment, and then clean with a sponge using a regular household cleaner. If possible, you can clean the screens in a bathtub filled with hot water. Rinse them under the shower.
13. Clean a greasy range-hood filter: Run the filter through the dishwasher. If it’s extremely dirty or clogged, though, you should buy a new one.
Check back in the future for more installments of life hacks for homeowners!