5 Quick Home Projects for When Winter Keeps You Indoors

The winter winds are howling outside. Good. Stay inside and get something done.

Houses at winter, aerial view
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Winter is a great time to get things done around the house. Blistering temperatures keep you shut up inside, but you can still put that time to good use. If you stay on top of these easy fixes, your house will be in tip-top shape and the last thing on your mind when those warm temperatures return.

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1 Recaulk Your Bathtub
Man using caulking gun, close-up
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A tub surrounded by mildew-blackened caulk is gross, but it’s easy to fix.

An overview of the process is this: Cut out the old caulk with a utility knife and a painter’s 5-in-1 tool. Thoroughly disinfect the area with a bleach-based cleaner. When the surface is dry, caulk the cleaned-out joint with a high-quality tub-tile silicone caulk.

This is the I’ve found. Apply it properly and it lasts for years.

2 Fix Squeaky Doors
Metal door hinge
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Fixup projects don’t get any simpler than this. Remove each hinge pin one at a time. If the hinge is open at the bottom, all you have to do is insert a nail and tap it upward using a hammer. If the hinge is closed, you need to insert a putty knife just below the point where the hinge cap meets the hinge knuckle. Tap the knife upward to free the pin.

Next, wipe the pin clean with WD40, alcohol or a little clean motor oil. Wipe a little grease on the pin, and slip it back in.

Grease like this, but a bit more money will get you something that's , which is one of my favorites.

3 Fix Loose Drawers
Cropped image of craftsperson opening drawer with knobs at workshop
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Drawer boxes, especially inexpensive Euro styles can actually come apart. The solution is to remove the drawer and insert a small reinforcing block of white pine in the corner between the loose parts, then simply fix the block in position between the drawer side and the drawer bottom.

It’s an amazingly fast and efficient repair, many times outlasting the cabinet or furniture.

4 Fix the Drip
Droplet
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Faucets drip. Not only does that waste water, the sound is annoying enough to keep you up at night. Fortunately the fix is easy and you know what one of your most powerful plumbing repair tools is? Your phone. It helps you document how your faucet comes apart.

In almost all cases today your faucet’s water flow is by means of a cartridge. The cartridge itself may wear out or its rubber parts such as its O rings may be shot. Sometimes, you can peel these off the cartridge, replace them and reinsert the cartridge. You’re back in business faster than you can say, drip.

For the definitive view of this small-but-important job, see our article, Plumbing Basics, , by Merle Henkenius.

Merle, retired now, was for many years a contributing editor here. He’s probably repaired more faucets than anybody in the U.S.

5 Fix the Toilet
Interior Of Bathroom
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If the toilet sounds like it flushes itself in the middle of the night or it makes a trickling sound, chances are good that its flapper valve is worn out.

This is the easiest fix of all. Turn off the water, flush the toilet, and then reach into the empty tank and move the existing flapper.

Its chain unhooks, and the flapper itself unhooks from two small plastic knobs on which it pivots. Then and you're good to go.

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