‘Screw It, Glue It and Nail It” was the motto for the sole “lumberyard” in the small Front Range mining town of a couple thousand that I lived near as a teen in Colorado.

Circular bins of nails, spikes and screws with paper bags; tools hanging from pegboard on the walls; and lumber racks out back stacked three high made the place seem like a megastore compared to our Central Hardware and Tools store. Lumber was the main draw and there weren’t many specialty items on hand without having them ordered in.

Modern one-stop building supply retailers don’t promote lumber as the main attraction, and there are obviously many more brands of different types of building materials, displacing the traditional main street specialty shops. Now lawn mowers, nursery plant starts, paint, carpet, appliances, detailed hardware, cleaning supplies, chainsaws, etc., are all under the same roof.

If you’ve been to one of the big box building supply stores this past month or so, you may have been surrounded by many homeowners who’ve spent about an additional third of their day under their roof as they have worked from home during the spring. That is a significant amount of time to be in one’s house and to notice conditions that have long been on the list to be initiated or were started yet never completed.

Check out the following 15-minute, coffee break projects that may apply to your home:

Are the smoke detector batteries fresh and operating properly? If not, replace the 9-volt batteries.

Do you have a carbon monoxide detector that is less than six years old? If not, buy a new one and mark any former one “bad” with a marker while tossing it.

Have you put a radon detector in place and adequately analyzed the past five years? If not, purchase a short-term kit and expose it for two to three days before mailing it off to a designated lab.

Is the compressor on the back of the fridge free of dust bunnies? If not, vacuum it.

Do you have leaks and drips at any faucet? If so, find the source and note it.

When taking an hour lunch, walk through the house and ask:

Do your windows outside show signs of water staining at the corners of the frames straight down the siding? If yes, go out and purchase sill seal, backer rod, non-expanding foam and silicone caulk to apply on the weekend.

Are there handrails screwed into hallway studs behind drywall on the stairs? If no, use a stud detector and mark with a pencil where to drill and apply screws through brackets.

Does water flow freely through your water filter? If not replace the cartridge and thoroughly clean the housing.

Have you replaced all incandescent light bulbs with compatible LED bulbs? If not, buy a carton if LED bulbs that are around an eighth of the comparable wattage of the original incandescent bulbs and swamp them out.

Are there adequate grabbing surfaces for someone entering or leaving the shower or bath? If not, purchase 1½-inch diameter grab bars and screw both ends to wall studs. Another option is to install a vertical security pole.

Take a break around the house if you are working from there. Then when you can, go down to your local building supply stores to stock up on materials to use when you have a chance. Call Art at 474-6366 if you have further questions on products or how to apply them in an effort to make your home more habitable and healthier.

Art Nash is the Extension energy and radon specialist for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. Contact him at 907-474-6366 or by email at ggholt@alaska.edu, alnashjr@alaska.edu.

Locations