While tackling a DIY project can be exciting and save you lots of money, it can also be dangerous if you start unprepared.
Here, we share our favourite home maintenance tips, discuss why you need a house maintenance checklist and share some informative DIY disasters.
Below, we discuss:
- preparing for DIY
- maintaining your home all year long
- seasonal home maintenance checklist
- avoiding DIY disaster
Preparing for DIY
Trust a professional if you’re unsure
First and foremost, don’t attempt anything you’re uncomfortable with. While it’s important to step outside your comfort zone, if you feel overwhelmed or unsure you’ll be safe – hire a professional.
Alternatively, if any of your friends or family are handy with tools, ask them to help you while teaching you any techniques along the way.
Dress appropriately for the task
Wear old clothes that you’re comfortable getting messy and stained. Especially if you’re working with paint or wood stain.
If you’re using power tools, blades and machinery, avoid wearing loose-fitting, floaty, clothing as it can get trapped and lead to injuries. This also goes for long hair and jewellery – keep it out of sight.
Glenn Peskett, owner of Saxton Blades, shares his advice on DIY attire:
“If you’re going to be generating a lot of dust, wear snug-fitting safety goggles. Debris getting in the eyes is one of the most common DIY injuries, and it can result in some unpleasant complications.
“Similarly, hand injuries make up a huge proportion of accidents involving tools. As many as two-thirds of injuries from tools and machinery affect the hands and wrists. Always work carefully and wear protective leather gloves where appropriate.”
Don’t be afraid of bathroom or kitchen DIY
Most of us leave bathrooms and kitchens to the professionals, but doing your own plumbing or tiling is possible. However, we recommend speaking to an expert such as an employee in your local hardware or plumbing store.
Start small and do your research before you start. Joe Pascoe from Victorian Plumbing advises amateur bathroom fitters to pay attention to compatibility: “when choosing a new tap, make sure that the pressure requirement matches your boiler.”
If in doubt, contact a reputable and qualified tradesperson when dealing with electricity and water. For the former, look for a ‘Part P’ qualification.
Check your home insurance
Maintaining your home all year long
The best home maintenance tip is to stay proactive. A checklist can help with this.
We recommend making a monthly and seasonal to-do list to keep on top of common problems. This lessens the chances of problems and invalidating your home insurance.
Monthly maintenance checklist
Monthly, we recommend:
- testing smoke alarms
- checking boiler pressure
- looking for water leaks
- cleaning humid, mould-prone areas
- restocking cleaning supplies
- checking your plumbing
However, you can do most maintenance seasonally.
Seasonal home maintenance checklist
Clear gutters - gutters don’t clean themselves, and autumn and winter can lead to significant debris build-up. Unclean gutters can lead to water damage too. Read our four-step guide to gutter cleaning.
Check the roof - roof damage isn’t always obvious, so after winter, it’s a good idea to check it for any damage from storms, cold and wet weather. Find out more about what to do during a storm and what to check afterwards on our storm weather hub.
Prevention is always best, and we can’t cover you for damage due to poor roof maintenance or wear and tear. We have an article on how to check your roof for repairs.
Tidy up the garden - spring is a good time to tidy up your garden, clear away twigs and leaves and improve your kerb appeal. Most home insurers won’t cover your gate or fence in a storm, so use spring to check these are secure.
Wipe down windows and doors - if you have wooden window frames or doors, cleaning them can help prevent the wood rotting.
Give your home a spring clean - after the cold, dark winter days, the spring sunshine is the go-to time of year to tidy up, clean and sort out.
Check trees and other large plants - falling trees and branches can damage your home when the weather gets worse.
Use summer to check these and cut them back if needed. If you’re unable to, call a professional tree surgeon.
Look for pests - pest damage tends to peak in the warmer months. Read our article on how to remove pests in your home.
Ventilate your home - summer’s a good time to open windows and ventilate your house; it helps prevent mould, too. Remember to close them when you leave the house.
Clean out your fridge and freezer - it’s a good time to clean out your fridge and freezer, which helps keep them running.
You can claim for the food lost from your fridge or freezer, but only if there’s a sudden rise or fall in temperature.
Service your boiler - read how to prepare your boiler for winter.
Check your insulation - checking and replacing your insulation can save you money in wintertime. Quality insulation can increase your home’s value too.
Seal window and wall cracks - do this before winter as it helps keep your house warm in the colder months.
Bleed radiators - Bleed your radiators once a year. This’ll help keep warm water circulating and ensures your central heating works. It’s better to do this in autumn when it’s milder. Learn how to bleed a radiator in just five steps.
Look over your pipes - taking proactive measures is the best way to prevent burst pipes. Read more about how to prevent escape of water damage.
Ventilate regularly - even though it’s cold, ventilate rooms occasionally when you’re home. It’s the best way to prevent mould.
Clean your drains - it’s easy to prevent blocked drains. Usually, you only need a drain unblocker. Sometimes, you’ll need to do more which is where our drain unblocking guide comes in handy. Use winter to keep on top of this.
Avoiding DIY disaster
Sometimes, the best DIY tips are found when learning from disaster…
Read some DIY horror stories from our staff below.
"I decided to mount some heavy speakers to a picture rail in my bedroom with screws and garden wire. The improvised speaker mounts failed when I was out. It looked like I had been burgled, and among the debris was my smashed acoustic guitar.
“I've kept some of the pieces to remind me to delegate all future DIY tasks."
"I decided to change a working light switch just because I wanted a chrome one.”
“All went well until I screwed the nail into the wires and blew the electric in my entire house."
"Someone I knew was painting an upstairs bedroom and had the paint tins resting on the windowsill.”
“While painting, they accidentally nudged one of the tins out the window and it exploded all over their car below."
"I was mending a friend's kitchen roof when I fell through the Perspex sheet and ended up on their kitchen table while they were enjoying a nice Sunday roast."