To keep your aging home looking and feeling its best, it takes a lot of little things but don’t have to take a lot of effort.

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Q: We love our house, but it’s old, worn and most certainly acts its age. Can you recommend quick, easy fixes for the squeaks and creaks that define a home well-lived?

A: Architectural aches and pains are a given, especially when a home can legally receive the 55-plus discounts at local eateries — as many Seattle-area houses can. To keep your aging home looking and feeling its best, it takes a lot of little things but don’t have to take a lot of effort.

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

Stale air. A smelly home 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.

Drippy faucet. 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.

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 — minus the not-working part.

Creaky hardwoods. Keep quiet when venturing out for that 3 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.

Holes in the wall. Haphazardly placed nails and other 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 to paint over.

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.

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.

Water stains. 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 the stain. 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.

HomeWork is written by contributing member professionals of the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members,
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