For new homeowners, your to-do check list can be pretty daunting when first settling into your new space. Even while knocking off the big items (painting, landscaping, outdoor lighting, furniture and fixtures) and some little ones (leaky faucet, noisy bathroom fan), make sure you add a recurring one of immense importance to the top of your list: routine home maintenance.
Treat your home as you would a luxurious high-end car (probably your second biggest investment). You could have a finely detailed car on the outside and immaculate interior. But if you ignore regular oil changes and other maintenance recommended by the manufacturer, the dream car can get nightmarish quickly with breakdowns and expensive repairs. Its value will drop and so will its useful life. Instead, think about having no car payments on a nice looking, fine-tuned car that you can enjoy for 10 years or more.
The following offers easy major tips any homeowner can follow for maintenance, plus a handy check list of the details that if ignored can fester and even lower the value of your home.
1. Drain the Water Heater – Many homeowners underestimate the importance of draining the hot water tanks annually. When this is ignored, sediment collects along the bottom of the tank, causing the tank to use more energy to warm the water. If this continues for an extended period of time, water can eventually leak through, making a cracking and hissing sound. According to “House Smarts TV,” these warning signs indicate you should purchase a new heater immediately. It’s less expensive to replace the heater now than it will be to call your plumber for an emergency visit when the tank fails, then clean up after the disaster.
2. Calling All Termites –Termites cost homeowners more than $5 billion in damage annually, according to the National Pest Management Association. There are several types of termites, each with the capability to destroy the structure of your home – all while costing you a fortune in headaches, stress and pest control fees. To be safe, monitor and seal any cracks in the home’s foundation and near roof siding, vents and windows. Termites can enter through openings smaller than the edge of a dime. Keep all mulch, firewood and wood chips away from the house to avoid creating moisture-rich habitats for termites to thrive. Lastly, keep gutters and downspouts clean and free of debris to prevent food sources for termites. Better Homes & Gardens offers more tips on how to ward off those creepy wood-munchers and prevent your home from becoming a wood repair and tenting disaster.
3. Raise the Roof – A leaky roof is a homeowner’s nightmare but can be prevented if monitored every couple months, especially if in areas with extreme weather swings. One easy approach: stand approximately 50 feet away from your house and slowly go around examining the shingles. What condition are they in? Do they look healthy or weathered? Are they curling? According to “House Smarts TV” curled shingles generally means there is a leak in the roof. If your shingles are in question, call a licensed roofing contractor immediately to inspect more thoroughly, assessing whether the area can be repaired, or replaced altogether before the leaks start dropping into your living areas.
Beyond these bigger items, follow this homebuyer’s routine home maintenance checklist twice a year from Triad New Home Guide. Inspect regularly to protect your investment and quality of life at home. Experts recommend setting up a schedule for chipping away at different parts of the list throughout the year. One trick: set up your computer calendar and smart phone to send reminders.
- Clean leaves and debris out of gutters and drain pipes to prevent water from backing up.
- Change or clean filters and vents in heating and air conditioning systems, dryers and fans as often as needed.
- Check for leaky faucets and leaks in the roof, chimney or around skylights.
- Fill cracks and holes in the exterior siding with caulk, repaint peeling spots and remove any vines growing on the house.
- Make sure the refrigerator and freezer door seals tightly; clean coils.
- Clean fireplaces after winter use; check for loose or missing mortar.
- Seal drafty doors and windows.
- Check screens and storm shutters (if applicable) depending on the season. Use the opportunity to repair any tears or damage.
- Check the foundation and basement walls and floors for dampness.
- Clean the humidifier in the fall and the dehumidifier in the spring. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries as needed or at least twice a year. Make sure you have easily accessible fire extinguishers that are in good working order.
- Inspect the water hoses on the washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator icemaker for cracks.
- Vacuum and dust your home regularly to prevent dirt from damaging the finishes on your countertops, cabinets, floors, sinks, tubs, toilets, tiles and other surfaces.
- Check your furnace or blower for rust and signs of corrosion. If the furnace has a belt, inspect it for cracks or excessive wear and tear. Also, change or clean the air filter.
- Hire a professional to check your gas appliances and furnace once a year. An expert may find things you wouldn’t catch that could prevent a serious problem from developing.