Architectural aches and pains are a given, especially when a home can legally receive the 55+ discounts at local eateries – as many  houses can do. To keep your aging home looking and feeling its best, it takes a lot of little things but doesn’t have to take a lot of effort.

Follow these easy fall fixes for a happier, healthier home.

1. Smelly home

Stale air got you down? Add a few drops of vanilla extract or essential oil onto your furnace filter. Don’t overdo it; add just enough to get a fresh spring scent circulating – even in the middle of January.

2. Drippy faucet

Drip. Drip. Drip. Most of the time a worn washer is to blame. To change the washer, find out what type of faucet you have and then locate and replace. Replacing other worn parts may come into the mix, and if you feel confident enough to DIY, a few tips may help:

  • Remember to shut off the water supply and turn the faucet on to get rid of excess aqua in the line.
  • Place a towel or cover over the sink drain to avoid losing parts, and always take parts being replaced with you to the hardware store to match with new parts.
  • If you’re using a wrench to unscrew parts, wrap it with painter’s tape so you don’t scratch the faucet’s finish.

3. Running toilet

Has your commode been going on a marathon? Typically, the culprit is the flapper. First, make sure your chain isn’t too long or too short. Next, add a few drops of food coloring to the water in the tank. If, after five minutes, you notice a color change in the bowl water, your flapper needs upgrading. Stop the water, drain the tank, and take the old flapper to the hardware store to make sure your new flapper matches the old – minus the not working part.

4. Creaky hardwood flooring

Keep quiet when venturing for that three a.m. glass of water by sweeping talcum powder into floorboard joints so they don’t rub together. If you’re still experiencing the squeak, you’ll want to ensure that your floorboards are securely fastened to the subfloor. If not, which is likely the case, you can fix it yourself in less than a day. Plenty of online tutorials can guide you through this process.

5. Holes in the wall

Haphazardly placed nails and other wall décor holders tend to leave nasty marks on your wall’s surface. Patching plaster and a putty knife effectively seal most holes, while a plaster and primer combo works better for areas that you’re planning on painting over.

6. Streaky windows

This one is easy: wash your windows on a cloudy day to avoid sun streaks. Using newspaper to wipe works, but beware with vinyl windows; the print may smear on white surfaces.

7. Moldy shower grout

Wipe down the surface with a wet cloth, then, using a paste of baking soda and water, scrub thoroughly with an old toothbrush or shower brush. After waiting a day, apply a sealer to ensure your furious scrubbing doesn’t go to waste.

8. Water stains on wood surfaces

Time will tell you which method to use when attempting to rid wood surfaces of nasty water rings. If the stain is a few days old, try ironing it out. Place a cotton towel onto the ring, put the iron on low and briefly press down. If that doesn’t work, try dabbing mayonnaise or petroleum jelly (really) onto a cloth and applying to the affected area. As a last resort, grab the toothpaste. It has to be white, and non-gel, but the toothpaste, when worked onto a stained surface, can effectively lighten or remove stained surfaces. Keep in mind, however, that toothpaste can wear surfaces if used too liberally.

A little TLC can do wonders for your home’s outward appearance. Treat it right, and you two will grow old together in fine fashion.

Originally written by Cameron Poague of the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties.