The next time you have to tackle a home improvement project, you might find that your smartphone can be a trusty tool. No, you can’t hammer nails or twist screws, but you can use your smartphone to help you out with those projects. It takes a little savvy and maybe a few apps, but with that in place you can carry your smartphone around as your personal assistant.
1. As a tool
Again, you won’t be pounding your smartphone against anything. That’s what hammers are for. Instead, you’ll be using apps on your smartphone to help you out. By spending just a few dollars on apps (and some of them are even free), you can replace tools that might be a bit more expensive — and take up more room in your toolbox.
Level: If you have an iPhone, you have a device with straight edges. While I wouldn’t use one to draw a straight line, it can provide other advantages. You can, for instance, install the iHandy Level app, which will let you know if any surface is level. It works just like a normal level, complete with bubble inside green fluid.
Plumb bob: It’s just like a level, except for measuring vertical lines. So right there you’ve taken two gadgets and condensed them onto one smartphone.
Ruler and protractor. These won’t work quite the same as a normal ruler and protractor, but they get the job done without taking up room in your toolbox. You’ll still need a tape measure for longer distances, of course, but for shorter ones your iPhone comes in plenty handy.
For jobs that require ultra-precise measurements you might want to stick with the real tools. But for simple around the house projects, your iPhone can make a pretty handy stand-in.
2. As a reminder
There are certain items in your house that need regular cleaning or tuning. Unfortunately, the human brain is bad at remembering many things at once. You might think you can easily remember to clean the tub every week, but chances are it’s going to slip your mind. You probably need some sort of reminder.
Just what might you need reminders for? Here are some around-the-house projects that you can do regularly, reminding yourself by setting calendar appointments with alarms and reminders.
- Change air filters. This is absolutely necessary for air conditioning units and filters. The units can even break if the filters get clogged enough.
- Tighten pipes. Many plumbing disasters can be avoided if you make sure all your pipes are nice and tight once a month.
- Wipe down surfaces. Dirt and grime can eat into surfaces and damage them permanently. Make sure you’re wiping down all surfaces, such as bathroom sinks, at least twice a month, and preferably once a week.
- Test unused outlets. Because the last thing you want is to plug in something and have it not work. Know ahead of time which outlets in your home need replacing — and then replace them.
3. As a reference tool
If you use your smartphone on home improvement projects for no other reason, use it as a reference tool. Look, most of us aren’t skilled carpenters. We don’t have encyclopedic knowledge of our homes stored inside our heads like a paid specialist might. We probably get our know-how from home improvement books and websites. That might be a problem when you’re in one nook of the house trying to repair some drywall.
By carrying your smartphone around in your toolbelt, you have a go-to tool whenever you need answers to questions. Not sure what tool is best for cutting into that drywall? You can go flip through a reference book or hop onto your computer — or you can search for it on your smartphone and not move an inch. The answer will come soon, and you can get started without interrupting yourself too much.
Your smartphone will never replace the most important tools in your toolbox. Even a titanium smartphone won’t replace a hammer. (Though a smartphone with a built-in Leatherman would be neat.) But you can still use your smartphone around the house to help with home improvement projects.