30 Home Improvement Hacks You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner
Sometimes those head-scratching home improvement moments turn into aha! ideas.
New uses for old glove fingers
Old sneakers as ladder bumpers
Nails can be a pain to remove, especially trim nails with small heads and any nail when the head breaks off. The trick is to use two tools together: locking pliers to grab the nail shank, and a pry bar to do the pulling.
Use a rubber band to grip stripped screws
Hands-free light hack
Rubber band clamps
Rubber band bolt holder
You’d be amazed at how easy it is to move heavy, awkward objects with three pieces of PVC pipe. Move playhouses, yard sheds, empty hot tubs and rocks weighing well over a ton with this trick. Use 4-in.-diameter ‘Schedule 40’ PVC, which is available from home centers. Here’s how to do it:
- Lift the front edge of the stone with a pry bar and slip two pipes underneath. Place one near the front and one about midway so the stone rests on the pipes.
- Position the third pipe a foot or two in front of the stone.
- Roll the stone forward onto the third pipe until the rear pipe comes free. Then move the rear pipe to the front and repeat.
This technique works best on relatively flat ground. On mild slopes, you’ll need a helper to shift pipes while you stabilize the load. Don’t use this method on steeper slopes.
String pipe cutter
Amaze your friends and mystify your neighbors by cutting PVC pipe with a string. It’s a great trick to know if you have to cut pipe that’s buried in a wall or some other tight spot. We used a mason’s line to saw through 2″ PVC pipe in less than a minute. Check out more brilliant PVC hacks everyone should know.
Get a grip
Get a better grip on your straight-handled shovel by epoxying a 1-in. PVC tee to the end.
I-Spy rain gutter
Here’s a quick and easy way to eyeball rain gutters for possible clogs—before the next downpour causes an overflow. Cut a 60-degree angle on the end of a piece of PVC pipe and tape a hand mirror to the angled end. Hoist the mirror above the gutter to spot leaves and mini jams. If you notice that your walls are damp, this is likely what’s wrong.
Help keep your home office space organized by using PVC pipe to hide cords. Just wrangle all those computer, mouse, monitor and phone cords and hide them in some PVC pipe. You can even use some colorful tape to match your office décor. These home improvement fails will make you cringe.
Drawer organizers on the cheap
Slit some up PVC pipe down the middle and you’ve got stackable drawer organizers to keep all your small tools handy. Check out these other simple solutions for everyday organization problems.
Quick woodworking file
A rubber chair leg cap instantly converts a hammer into a rubber mallet. And if you want to drive a nail without denting the surrounding wood, cut a hole in the rubber cap. Pound until the rubber strikes wood, then finish driving the nail with a nail set. A 1-1/8-in. rubber cap fits tightly over most hammers and costs about $1 at home centers and hardware stores. Here are some more secret tool tips every DIYer should know.
Lighted screwdriver hack
Bobby pin nail holder
Vise-Grips to pull nails
Six-pack shop organizer
Six-pack cartons are useful for storing and transporting items like spray paint, lubricants and caulk. —Gerald Fitzgibbon. Here are some more clever household storage hacks you’ll want to try.
My house has round ceiling registers for the air-conditioning system. In the winter, we’d get cold air falling from the registers. Rather than put up with the drafts, I sealed the registers with those clear plastic saucers that you put under flowerpots. I temporarily glued them in place with White Lightning SEASONSeal Clear Removable Weather Stripping ($5). It’s a rubbery sealant that you apply with a caulk gun and peel off in the spring. —James Herrrenknecht
Keep pictures level
A pinch of mounting putty (that sticky stuff used to hang posters) prevents picture tilt without harming walls. Here are some more DIY home improvement projects you can do without calling the pros.
Stop losing socks
Stuff a strip of foam pipe insulation into the space between your washer and dryer or along the wall. That way, socks can’t slip into the abyss.
My dogs and I have an arrangement. They poop; I pick it up. But rather than make daily trips to the trash can, I built this poop pipe. It’s just a large piece of 4-in. PVC drainpipe sunk into the ground a foot or so, with a trash bag lining it and a cap sitting loosely on top. A rubber band holds the bag in place, and the cap helps keep odors at bay. When the bag gets full, I just take it to the trash bin and put a new one in the drainpipe. —Kelley Griswold. Here are some more simple cleaning tips every dog or cat owner should know.