8 Seriously Brilliant Home Improvement Tips, According to Reddit

published Nov 24, 2019
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

The dubious wisdom of the masses isn’t always the best solution. But in some cases, all you need is the gentle hand of someone who’s walked the home improvement path before to guide you, rather than the expense of paying a contractor to tell you to turn it off and turn it on again.

And where else do you go to find people with opinions but the internet? We headed to Reddit and checked out the top posts of the year on some homeowner and DIY subreddits to see what tips we could gain. Whether you just want some quick insight into how to help out your contractor or are out to reprogram your dryer to play the “Lord of the Rings” theme, there’s something there for you. We gathered the eight best, most brilliant tips here.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Don’t hire a pro without doing your research

Who doesn’t love a DIY project that saves money and has a reasonable margin of error? One Redditor found out the hard way that they overspent on a project they could have done themselves:

“When we moved into our house, we noted we had to replace some damaged blinds. A coworker told me to go through Costco and discouraged me from using an online blinds service or one of the big box stores because ‘the measurements are so important.’

After a brief search on Angie’s List, I selected three companies (one of which was the Costco preferred installer) and sought out bids. The estimates came in within $50 of each other so I figured these were all competitive. I chose the Costco company. For four sets of custom cellular shades, the cost came in at $500/window. I did NOT check out the big box stores or online vendors which was the root of my mistake.

Today, I notice that one of the big box stores online has literally the same shade custom fit to your measurements for $110/window. Removing the old shades, I note that the shade installation involves properly placing 4 screws per shade. Which essentially breaks down to paying some $100 per screw.

Please learn from my mistake and do not use professional installers unless your budget is huge or your windows challenging/inaccessible.”

Use your air compressor to do quick cleaning (and save money)

An air compressor can do more than just clean your keyboard. Put the compressed air strategy to use, like this Redditor did:

“So I have always hated cleaning my dryer vent and because of that it gets put off until ‘later’. The stupid snake/brush things always get stuck and it takes forever so I decided to try compressed air. I started by moving the dryer and disconnecting the vent. Then I ran my air hose from the garage into the laundry room, wrapped a towel around the air nozzle and shoved it in the vent to create a tight seal. Then I hit it with the air and blew the pipe out. This blew it out cleaner than a professional vent cleaning. About a 5 gallon bucket of lint went shooting out all over my overly inquisitive dog who now looks like a sheep made of lint. So next time I’m going to make sure the dogs are inside. Quick 5 min cleanup with a shop vac outside and the whole thing took 10 minutes.”

Contact paper is an MVP for rental upgrades

You don’t have to live with ugly rental countertops. Make like this Reddit user did and cover them with contact paper

“I moved into a rental house a couple months ago and love the kitchen, but for some reason the landlord decided to make everything a different shade of yellow. Literally. It was overwhelming and I couldn’t stand it anymore. Since this isn’t my house and we have less than a year left here, I decided to try the contact paper + Windex trick on the countertops. They were this ugly mustard yellow formica with red trim, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were installed in the ’70s or ’80s.

The whole thing took less than a day and I’m actually really happy with how it came out! I know they won’t last forever but that’s not the point, I’ll have to pull them up in ~9 months anyway. The whole kitchen feels so much brighter now and I really feel like it brings out the white cabinets & black hardware, which are newer and were lost in all that yellow before.”

Credit: PicturePerfekt/Shutterstock

Secure your keypad lock

Don’t forget to take precautions so that your lock is as safe as you think it is, as noted by this Reddit user:

“If you have a Keypad Deadbolt Lock, delete your default code. I have a Weiser PowerBolt 2.0, and it comes with a default open code of 1-2-3-4. What I didn’t realize until now, is that it doesn’t automatically get deleted when you set a new code. 1-2-3-4 still exists. You have to manually delete that.”

Remember that pests really can hide anywhere

Overlooked nooks and crannies can be safe havens for creepy crawlies, as this Redditor discovered:

“I’ve been fighting the good fight to eliminate a moth infestation. Followed all the tips, yet still, even after a couple months, around 9:00 every night I’d see those fuckers flying around again. I could not for the life of me, find a source. No more larvae anywhere. Everything is spotless. Nothing. Today, I finally figured it out. Upon cleaning out toaster crumbs, I saw a little webbing. Hmmm… Grabbed a screwdriver, took the toaster apart, and boom. There it was. I guess throwing out the toaster beats burning down the house. So, if you find yourself in my situation, look INSIDE your toaster. Also— fuck pantry moths!”

Credit: Julia Steele

Check your washer hose to prevent future damage

A regular look-see can save you thousands, as this Redditor explains:

“Friendly reminder to check your washing machine hoses. Here are the hoses from my washer and dryer, about 4 yrs old and where brand new then, notice how ballooned the hot hose is at the crimp? I have since switched to braided stainless for peace of mind.

What reminded me to check was I saw an add for home insurance stating that a majority of their water claims where from burst washing machine hoses! Better check! Cost me $27CAD for 2 new braided hoses, cheap compared to a deductible!?”

Change out your furnace filters, even if you don’t think you need to

Replacing furnace filters helps your heating operate more efficiently, so yes, you do need to remember to change your filters—even if you don’t own your home:

“PSA: go on Amazon (or wherever) and buy 6 filters for ~$30 and label them with the dates, set an alert for the dates, and now your furnace is taken care of for the next year! I got a brand new (also my first!) furnace on December 6, 2018. I bought a condemned home and it was one of the things that was missing. I bought the filters, put them next to the furnace, and now I just need to remember to flip them out every other month—much easier than going to buy one and flip it out.”

Upgrade your door frame screws for security

This aggregated new homeowner to-do list is full of gems ranging from maintenance checks to safety precautions. Our personal favorite is an easy way to upgrade your home security:

“Door frame screws (hinges, jamb, strike plate, whatever else you have going on) are typically an inch long, if that. A couple minutes with a drill/screwdriver and a handful of three-inch screws means that you have more than a half-inch of wood keeping the boogey man out. It’s remarkable what a difference this makes when you watch someone try to break a door in. Be sure to pre-drill the holes before putting the longer screws in there to avoid cracking the wood because that would defeat the purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish here.”