Best tools and gadgets for homeowners

Best tools and gadgets for homeowners

Culling from hundreds of interviews with female homeowners, I present to you a roundup of some of the best tools and gadgets that female homeowners find indispensable, and why, in their own words.

Water quality testing kits

This one caught my eye especially since there have been many reports in the news about water quality not being safe, and not just in Flint, Michigan. As homeowners, often we take for granted that the water we drink is safe. Whether you are a well owner or on a city water system, knowing about options to test your water is good information to have on hand.

What is it?

Water sample testing kit.

First, you want to identify a place that can test your water. I am hearing from homeowners that their local hospitals and governments are making water testing kits available often for free. You can usually find out a place to test from your state’s Department of Natural Resources. If testing isn’t free, I am hearing that states charge as low as $10 to perform the test. If your state won’t provide a kit, you can also look for available labs, such as this list, and call to see the process and cost.

Next, you want to know exactly what it is that is being tested. There are many different tests for water which include tests for bacteria, lead, pesticides, etc.

best tools for homeowners

Why do you love it?

“I’ve been worried about the quality of our well water as some areas around us had water issues. Then I found out that I can get water testing bottles for free at my local hospital”.

“It totally gave me peace of mind to know that our water supply is safe. I’m planning to do it every year now.”

“Once I was able to figure out how I could test the water, the process was really simple, and it’s a huge relief to know what’s in the water we are drinking as there have been some issues in our area that have been reported over the years.”

Cost: Free to $100

Head lamp

I was amazed to hear that more than a few female homeowners prefer a headlamp to a flashlight but after hearing their comments it makes perfect sense.

What is it?

It’s a light attached to a headband.

best tools for homeowners

Why do you love it?

“Your overhead light goes out and you need to change it when there’s no one around to hold the flashlight? No problem! I use my headlamp for all kinds of things. It has LEDs so I don’t have to worry about batteries. It’s lightweight and frankly better than any flashlight out there.”

“The reason why I bought one originally is that I do a fair amount of rock climbing and bought one for that. I found it’s great for tons of uses around the house!”

Cost: $11 – $70

Caulk and caulk gun

While there’s nothing particularly special or unique about caulk, it seems to make the top of the list of items that homeowners find essential.

What is it?

Silicon or polyurethane material stuffed in a tube + a metal spring loaded delivery system.

best tools for homeowners

Why do you love it?

“I sealed every little crack in my kitchen to prevent ants and mice. Every crack. Even big ones. And we are mice and ant free. Then I went around and did along the floor under the baseboards, so that the cold air wouldn’t keep blowing in.”

“We have hardwood floors that have been painted over, so I sealed the cracks in the floors every one of those. I also sealed all of our doors… We have these amazing old doors on a lot of the rooms that have been painted, and there are cracks between the boards that build the doors.”

“It’s great to use along any trim you have inside the house because if the trim wasn’t put on correctly, it’ll pull away from the wall and that’s annoying and ugly.”

Handy tips:

“You have to get your hands messy with this stuff. You have to touch it and smooth it out really nicely.”

“It’s important to cut the right size hole in the tube. You want it to be at an angle. Not too big so a ton of it comes out at once, just a nice bead, you have to just do this and figure out what works and mess it up a few times. I always have paper towels with me when I’m doing this. You quickly lay down a bead that’s not too long because you’re going to have to spread it out with your fingers before it dries. Then you want to wipe your finger along the bead just once, not multiple times. Kind of like applying mascara. A lot of excess will come off the sides but hopefully it’s not too much because you cut your angle of the tube the right size.”

“As I’m going along, I’ll wipe that excess into other cracks because I’m cheap and I like to make the most of it. The wiping part is really key because that’s how you get it to look nice.”

“If you are using it on surfaces that you are going to paint, make sure you get a type of caulk that you can paint over. Also, you want to match the color closer to the paint color, if you can.”

Cost: $5 – $20 for caulk, $3 – $25 for caulk gun

Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm

I would say this one was, hands down, the most often cited gadget that people loved. Also mentioned was the Nest thermostat.

What is it?

A modern smoke and carbon monoxide detector that is user friendly and can give you alerts to your phone.

best tools for homeowners

Why do you love it?

“I cook quite a lot and inevitably produce a lot of smoke that will set off the smoke alarm, particularly if its something like a steak. I used to have to stop and get a towel and wave like crazy to try to get it to stop. Super annoying and frustrating. But with the Nest smoke detector, I can either jump up and push the button on it, kind of awkward but it works, or wait for it to alert me on my iPhone and disable it that way.”

“I haven’t had to endure the endless beeping of a smoke alarm that needs it’s battery changed and have to look online for some archaic manual to do the right sequence of button presses to get it functioning again, all while standing on a high ladder! With Nest, it’s all very self explanatory and the app alerts you to changing the battery and it’s all very straightforward.”

“I love how the light on the Nest is motion sensitive and illuminates ever so gently when you walk under it at night time, like a gentle nightlight.”

Cost: $100

Big Ass Fans

The first time a homeowner mentioned this to me, I asked, “Is that the name of it, or…?” because I wasn’t sure if she was just commenting on its size. The company is indeed called Big Ass Fans.

What is it?

A line of ceiling fans that range from industrial to residential.

best tools for homeowners

Why do you love it?

“An architect friend introduced me to it who uses them regularly in residential and commercial projects. For one thing, it looks better than most of the fans on the home market. The light is recessed and functional. You can control it from your phone as well as the remote. I had limited space in my historic house’s bedroom so it works. Seems to do a great job dispersing air and has a lot of settings, not just high and low. And you can program it to turn on when the house hits a certain temperature.”

“I have the one of the Haiku I Series and it’s just so beautiful and functional. A really nice aesthetic that goes with my apartment and I also love the tech savviness as well as the simplicity and functionality.”

Cost: $600

Dyson Cord-free Vacuum

I happen to have an older Dyson that is about 15 years old and still works great but I was surprised to hear from many homeowners who raved particularly about the Dyson cordless vacuum.

What is it?

A vacuum that is chargeable and lightweight.

best tools for homeowners

Why do you love it?

“It’s awesome because it is lightweight. You never dread having to use it. No cord, no awkward thing to lift. As a result, my house is super clean. I vacuum all the time. And it is really powerful. Better than any vacuum with a cord.

“We bought one and loved it so much we got one for our boat. I will never return to a conventional vacuum.”

“It’s great for pet owners and if you have kids. It reduces the stress of cleaning. It has a bunch of good attachments. Including one for dog hair – sucks the hair straight from the dog!”

Cost: $300

Shop Vac 6 Gallon Wet Dry Vac

And finally, my personal favorite, the Shop Vac. And, as it turns out, it’s a lot of other homeowner’s favorite, too.

What is it?

An industrial strength tool for both sucking up items (water, debris, etc.) and/or using as a blower.

best tools for homeowners

Why do you love it?

“It’s great when I’m doing some light renovation projects to suck up all the mess that I wouldn’t use my regular vacuum cleaner for.”

“My Shop Vac has gotten me out of a few binds, most recently when an old pipe burst in the basement. I had a water leak and was able to reduce the damage but efficiently removing water from the area before it damaged too much of my stuff.”

My video review

Cost: $70