It can seem as if the "joys" of homeownership are never-ending. Cleaning, painting, fixing, patching – will it ever be done? Well, unfortunately, it you want your home to be in tip-top shape, you must maintain it. But the good news is that home maintenance isn't so much about making repairs as it is about preventing them. Certain tasks, when performed regularly, actually prevent things from breaking in the first place. From the gutters to the living-room carpet, there's a reliable method for keeping every part of your home clean, safe and well maintained.
Keeping your home in good repair makes it safer, more energy efficient, more comfortable and, of course, saves you money on costly repairs down the road. Below are the top 10 most-important tasks to complete for a well-maintained home.
Exhaust ducts and vents — Vacuum the clothes dryer's exhaust duct and HVAC vents at least once a year. They can become easily clogged with lint and dust from everyday use. Build-up in these areas can decrease the efficiency of your appliances, regularly costing you money out of pocket. Clogged ducts and vents can also cause fires and are therefore considered a major safety hazard. It is also wise to replace any necessary filters quarterly at a minimum.
Gutters — Clean leaves and debris from the gutters of your home in the spring and the fall. Many people leave this task to handle in the fall, however, the winter winds tend to find any gutters and downspouts and fill them with damp, soggy leaves. Clogged gutters can cause major water leaks and damage to both your home's interior and exterior. As part of the task, make sure that all the downspouts are connected properly to avoid them disconnecting later under the weight of rainwater.
Chimneys — Have the fireplace and wood stove chimneys inspected and cleaned annually. Too much soot built up in the chimney can cause smoke to back up into your home or, even worse, cause a fire. In addition, check for cracks that may need to be repaired before they become larger issues down the road.
Alarms — Inspect and replace the batteries in smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and any other alarms you may have in your home yearly. And remember, even hard-wired smoke detectors have backup batteries that must be replaced. If you have never checked yours, let this be your reminder to do so.
Flooring — Apply a protective coating to wood floors annually to improve appearance and durability of the wood. Carpets and rugs should be deep cleaned using a hot-water steam cleaner. Not only will this clean your carpets but it is also a fantastic way to reduce the amount of airborne allergens in the home.
Windows — Wash windows inside and out. Cleaner bottles that attach to your garden hose make this job a bit easier. Also scrape off any peeling paint around the window frame and repaint window frames as necessary.
Weatherproofing — If you detected some nasty drafts during this past winter, now is a good time to recaulk windows and add weather-stripping around doors for a snug fit. It will keep the cool air inside your home during the summer as well as keeping the cold air out next winter.
Septic tank — Watch for backup throughout the year and have a professional check the tank for any issues. In many areas, it is recommended that the tank be pumped every year.
Siding and roofing — Have a professional inspect your siding and roofing to determine if any repairs or maintenance is needed. Roofing repairs can be among some of the most costly, so it is wise to keep your roof well maintained and take care of any issues as they arise.
Property — Last, but certainly not least, is the exterior of your property. The exterior is the first impression a person will have of your home so be sure that your home is appealing and inviting outside. This is especially true if you are considering selling your home. Rid the exterior of debris and loose items. Outside walking paths should be well lit, and items such as trash cans should be easily accessible. And be sure the lawn is mowed and any trees/shrubs are properly pruned away from windows and power lines.
While I can't promise you that maintaining your home will completely prevent problems, I can promise that you will be a lot less likely to be blindsided by a large repair bill. Knowing what you're up against and having peace of mind that your home is in good shape is a wonderful thing.
Danielle Moser is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at email@example.com.