Home improvement: It's a never-ending process for many people, and for those of us who aren't necessarily handy, it can be a hassle, too.
But there are plenty of simple maintenance tasks and other improvements you can handle to make your home safer - whether you're handy or not. And you won't have to break out the power tools (or any tools at all in some instances) or worry about getting in over your head.Water works
You need running water in your home - but not water running in your home, if you know what we mean. Even minor leaks can cause major problems, from higher water bills to damage requiring costly repairs (maybe even the kind you can't tackle yourself). Here are some easy ways to make sure your water stays where it should:
Keep your family (and your guests) on their feet
- Check your appliances. They're the most common source of water leaks in homes, so it's worth taking a look at least once a year to check for problems. And the hoses that come with your washer and dishwasher can mean big trouble - they break down over time. Look for kinks and cracks, and replace if needed. Consider using reinforced hoses, too; those with steel braiding or mesh won't hold up forever, but they're stronger than rubber or plastic.
- Watch the pressure. Water pressure that is set too high can cause pipes, hoses and water lines to leak or burst. Inexpensive gauges are available at home-improvement stores to test your pressure.
- Consider installing water sensors. These can alert you to a leak or other problem soon after it occurs - some can even send messages to your smartphone.
Millions of Americans - many of them older adults - are injured in falls each year. About 2.5 million were hurt in 2013 alone, according to the National Safety Council and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Look around your home. Should you make some of these fixes?
Give everyone some air
- Reduce clutter. Everything from small pieces of furniture to area rugs can pose a hazard, so make sure they're in appropriate places and out of the way if possible.
- Add stability to stairs. Make sure stairways have sturdy rails, and maybe even non-slip strips, particularly outdoors.
- Let there be light. It's hard to walk safely when you can't see obstacles or potential trouble spots. Make sure your home is well-lit, and don't forget night lights, too.
Pollution isn't just an outside thing - the air in your home can be unhealthy, too. But helping people breathe a little easier isn't hard when you follow these steps:
- Test the air (and your detectors). Make sure you have working carbon-monoxide and smoke detectors and test them regularly. Also, consider testing your home for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can be dangerous over time.
- Check your filters and ducts. Keeping your furnace filter and air ducts clean will keep your air cleaner as well. And consider adding some of nature's air filters: plants.
- Keep your home clean. Dust doesn't just build up on the furniture - it ends up in the air as well. Regular cleaning means cleaner air (just be sure to use safe products).
Home improvement doesn't have to mean a kitchen remodel or finishing the basement. Making your home safer, in fact, just might be the best improvement of all.